February 6, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Celebrated actor and social justice activist Danny Glover has pulled out of a special lecture and reception series originally slated to take place at Pace University’s Downtown Campus on February 6 – and the New York District Council of Carpenters thinks that an ongoing labor dispute centered on a contentious school construction project at 33 Beekman Street just might be reason why.
According to a Pace University spokesperson, Glover – who was supposed to deliver a keynote address entitled “Workers Rights At Home And Abroad” – cancelled his appearance at the school’s 6th Annual Martin Luther King Lecture and Reception just a few days before the event was actually scheduled to take place. Pace University subsequently cancelled the entire ceremony and blamed Glover’s no-show on a scheduling conflict.
“He was the main attraction,” Pace University spokesperson Cara Cea told LaborPress. “It was just a matter of rescheduling for a time when he’d be able to come. We’ll still have the event – it’ll just be another time.”
The union that has, since last June, demonstrated outside the new residence hall being constructed at 33 Beekman Street – and had, along with members of the plumbers and laborers unions, planned to protest once more at the February 6 event – feared that Pace University’s failure to uphold area standards, wages and benefits at the controversial construction site, may have prompted Glover to reconsider his appearance at the 6th Annual Martin Luther King Lecture and Reception – and caused the gun-shy school to scrap the whole affair.
“They probably got wind that we were coming with sound permits,” said Rubén Colón, representative, NYC District Council of Carpenters. “We’re very boisterous.”
The NYC District Council of Carpenters maintains that Pace University is exploiting workers on Beekman Street becaue it is utilizing the services of a sub-contractor – in this case Casino Development Group, Inc. – that has a spotty safety record and offers its employees sub-par wages and next to no benefits.
“This is about economic and social equality for all carpenters in New York City and the erosion of the middle class in a race to the bottom,” Colón continued.
In addition to that, the Carpenters point out that last fall, workers injured at the 30-plus story construction site needed to be extracted and spirited away via ambulance on two separate occasions.
A spokesperson for Danny Glover has since confirmed that the actor – now filming on location in Louisiana for the upcoming movie "Badasses 3" – was unable to leave the production and was forced to withdraw from the February 6, Pace University event.
Glover, who has starred in a gamut of highly success Hollywood films ranging from “The Color Purple” to “Lethal Weapon,” is also a renowned union activist and has for many years dedicated himself to protecting workers rights.
It is unclear if the actor, indeed, plans to reschedule his Pace University appearance – or how the labor dispute revolving around 33 Beekman Street might affect his decision.
“We’re grateful that Danny Glover goes on the lecture circuit to get these things out there – but he also needs to know who the real players are, and the hypocrisy that Pace [University] is perpetrating on the community,” Colón added.
Although Pace University cancelled its 6th Annual Martin Luther King Lecture and Reception at its Downtown Campus after Glover cancelled his appearance there – the university did hold a similar event last week at its Westchester Campus, in which Columbia University Professor Carl Hart delivered the keynote address.
Given his union activism, the NYC District Council of Carpenters is now hoping that Glover will use whatever influence he may have, to help resolve the ongoing labor dispute swirling around 33 Beekman Street – especially since Pace University still expects to have the actor come speak at a future event.
“Maybe they will hear him, when they didn’t hear us,” said Colón.