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Labor Coalition Continues Pressure on Brookfield Properties to Bounce Bad Actors And Stop Wage Theft

New York, NY – On Wednesday, August 26, Take It Back,  a coalition consisting of multiple construction trade unions (New York State Laborers Local 731, Local 1010 and Local 79, Cement & Concrete Workers District Council 16, Bricklayers- Local 1, Tile, Marble and Terrazzo- Local 7, and Local 12- Insulators) held a rally at 250 Vesey Street in Lower Manhattan, the headquarters of Brookfield Properties, to protest and call attention to the ongoing issue of wage theft and the use of bad actors by the property developer.

The Take It Back labor coalition is calling on Brookfield Properties to come to the table.

Take It Back is fighting against worker exploitation, wage fraud, safety violations, and raising the bar in an effort to ensure safety, respect, and dignity for all construction workers.

More than 20 workers, all members of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) an organization that builds the individual and collective power of immigrant workers in New York City, were employed by Top Shelf Electric between August and December 2018.  They worked at 2 different sites: Hallets Point in Queens, one on the Upper East Side. They were not paid for several weeks of their work; collectively they are owed tens of thousands of dollars.

Top Shelf Electric, RNC, and SLG were among companies cited as “bad actors.” 

Building Material Teamsters Local 282 Business Agent John Santaniello said, “We see more and more owners trying to use subcontractors and suppliers who undermine the labor standards that the Teamsters and other trade unions have fought for over decades, labor standards that allow working class people to earn a decent middle-class life in New York and to retire with dignity.”

Over one hundred union members were estimated to have attended the rally, along with New York City Councilmember Ben Kallos, and members of New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund (NYSLOF). Kallos remarked on the enthusiastic volume of the crowd, and said, “Every time I hear about a contractor like Top Shelf, that is stealing wages from workers, I will be here with you to say, ‘Take It Back. Pay what is owed. Pay those workers.” 

Joe Scopo, head organizer of District Council 16 of the Cement and Concrete Workers union, said, “We lowered our wages for Brookfield Properties and we already negotiated with them, but at 45 Commercial Street [where Top Shelf Electric was used] they used RNC and other bad actors.” Mike Arena, organizer and foreman with DC-16 Cement and Concrete Workers, with twenty-three plus years of experience, said of the work at 45 Commercial Street, “I’ve never seen work go up so slow and so unsafe in all my years.”

Union workers are demanding a level playing field from Brookfield Properties.

Scopo added, “We want Brookfield Properties to sit down with us again. Unions want a level playing field when it comes to the bidding process on jobs. We don’t see a reduction in real estate costs, we are just seeing a reduction in labor costs and safety costs. They have another project coming up in the Bronx. We have skilled workers trained in multi-million-dollar training facilities. Is it they don’t want accountability in certain areas that they don’t go union? Brookfield Properties is not directly responsible for wage theft and worker exploitation but they are hiring those companies that are. Brookfield Properties knows what’s right and wrong. Why not go with the unions? The unions do good work all the time.”

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1 thought on “Labor Coalition Continues Pressure on Brookfield Properties to Bounce Bad Actors And Stop Wage Theft”

  1. I’m a laborer with the Cement and Concrete workers local 20 (a proud LiUNA member). The very idea of collective bargaining is compelling, with beneficial incentives. The workers (white color or blue) deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. This algorithm must be kept fair and CLEAN – it will bridge the order for a smooth socioeconomic path and hence, a healthier peoples. Ie., the workers/middle class.
    The DOL (Dept. of labor) was created in 1913 for the sole purpose of protecting the workers (protect the workers from themselves? More like from wicked employers/poor foreman(s) with upside down egos). The roof of the DOL has been compromised by the wonderful union busting President. – cleverly picking E. Scalia [infamous for going against the workers ~ ] to run the DOL.~
    To all of my real trade union brothers / sisters and to ALL OF THE robust American workers that see the light of collective bargaining [those that haven’t seen the light yet, I strongly suggest that you dive into the history of the labor movement. And more importantly, I hope that your eyes open to the appreciation of the labor patriarchs, that have defined the essence of the American workers.i.e., Beatrice Webb (1858-1943)/Frances Perkins (1880-1965) and Walter Reuther (1946-70) just to name few labor leader masters],it’s crucial that we protect the writing on the wall. *We must also make plain to the public, the subterfuge ways that the politicians’ have toward unionism.
    Make no mistake; the DOL was not an isolated innocent. The game(s) of divide and conquer were made palpable when the NLRB (National Labors Relation Board – the glue to the splendor of our collective bargaining agreement) was also covered with a dark cloud ~
    Milton Friedman’s explanation(s) of corporate greed can’t be made more clear, “One common explanation of why government is the problem, and one that I have often stressed, IN THE INFLUENCE OF SPECIAL INTEREST [large caps – my emphasis]. p. 7 ~ Why Government is the problem (1993)
    OK, Now Biden has been carefully picked by the AFL-CIO [* bottom line, does he have a solid track record for standing up with the workers / union members? – can we [trade union] afford more of Trumpism? (With C-19 in the air / USA/world at its knees (things a better now -AMEN AMEN AMEN), china sees the dark cloud coming toward their way)]…
    Allow me to made a confession, I’m glad that my organizers / strong brothers & sisters are fighting through teeth and nail, for us to have a better path…Congress are you listening! ~
    I can’t wait for the following 3 to materialize:

    1. Vaccine for C-19
    2. The economy to come back
    3. AFL-CIO/LiUNA rally toward Washington DC. / City Hall -WE MUST HAVE A HUGE RALLY (wouldn’t hurt a fly) IN THE NAME OF MOST HIGH. And let the politicians know who’s the real boss ! ie., the people – power to the people ! power to the people ! power to thde people !

    by h.p. (8/29/20)
    Union strong
    Union clean

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