New York, NY – This week, many irate Equinox and SoulCycle members flipped out, canceled their memberships and urged others to do the same after learning corporate investor Stephen Ross planned to throw a lavish Hamptons fundraiser on Friday night for Racist-In-Chief Donald Trump’s re-election bid.
Trade unionists, however, have long accused Related Companies’ billionaire founder of all the same things Trump is loathed for: racism, misogyny and union-busting.
In March, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York announced “an historic accord” with Related Companies over the next phase of development at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side.
But before that, angry trade unionists assailed Ross for more than a year in a relentless campaign denouncing Related’s model of so-called “open shop” development at Hudson Yards, while also criticizing Ross for, at the very least, turning a blind eye to the heinous worker abuses happening on Related job sites.
Last summer, 37 members of the Building Trades #CountMeIn campaign where arrested at a Park Avenue and 51st Street sit-in in which Ross was jeered as a “racist, sexist union-buster” and urged to step down from his position on the National Football League’s Social and Racial Justice Committee.
Later, in November, Trade unionists continued their call for Ross — who also owns the Miami Dolphins — to step down from the NFL’s Social and Racial Justice Committee, going so far as crashing a live broadcast of Fox NFL Thursday Night Football on West 48th Street.
During the Park Avenue protest, Darnell Thomas, a former worker on a Related job site, said that he was fired from his job after circulating a petition among workers asking for more information about the 401(k) benefits they were promised. Laborer’s Local 79 member Tierra Williams told LaborPress that the sexual harassment she received working on a Related job site before she joined the union was so bad, she didn’t feel comfortable taking a bathroom break unaccompanied.
“Not only was I exploited as a worker, but as a woman,” Williams said. “I experienced a lot of sexism as far as my voice not being heard and my opinions falling on deaf ears.”
Meanwhile, in January, residents living in a Related-owned housing complex in Astoria, Queens, enlisted the #CountMeIn campaign’s help in fighting against the rampant tenant harassment they say they began experiencing after Related Companies bought their Marine Terrace apartments in 2016.
“I thought [Related] were going to do good for our community, so we kind of became buddies — not realizing what kind of company they were,” 62-year-old Deborah Pawluk told LaborPress.
Pawluck also told LaborPress that Related had allowed Marine Terrace to literally become rat infested.
“The amount of rats we have here is just astronomical,” Pawluk told LaborPress. “If you throw a rock you’ll have about 20 rats running at you — not to mention the ones that rip open the garbage at night. If I go to walk my service animal and throw away garbage — I have to watch that the rats don’t come and jump at us.”
Stephen Ross and Donald Trump have been pals for decades. This week, Trump told the White House press corps. that the Related Companies founder is “a great friend of mine” and “he likes me, he respects me.”