New York, NY – Members of the unionized Building Trades are applauding the City Council’s approval of a highly contentious plan to expand the New York Blood Center’s Upper East Side address — a plan the neighborhood’s representative warns will end up costing taxpayers $750 million in subsidies. 

It’s unclear exactly how many union jobs the 16-story tower proposed for East 67th Street will ultimately produce, but many rank & file members rallying outside City Hall in support of the plan on Nov. 23, adhere to old adage, “any union job is a good job.”

Carpenters rally outside City Hall in support of the NY Blood Center’s Upper Side building conversion.

The New York City Council backed the measure 43-5, over the fierce objections of City Council Member Ben Kallos [D-5th District]. The body usually takes its cue on land use issues from the neighborhood council members representing impacted communities — but not this time. 

New York City District Council of Carpenters Executive-Treasurer Joe Geiger called the overwhelming vote in favor of the New York Blood Center’s conversion a victory over “blatant NIMBYism.”

“The Center will create incredible opportunities for life-saving medical research, middle class jobs for the New Yorkers, and maintain New York’s status as a city of innovation,” he said in a statement. “While we remain — and always will — a steadfast supporter of the role member deference plays in the land use process, we believe this is an extraordinary situation.”

Laborers Local 79 Business Manager Mike Prohaska called the City Council vote a “win-win for everyone.” 

“Millions of current and future New Yorkers will benefit from the Blood Center’s continued growth,” he said in a statement following this week’s vote. “In the years ahead, the Blood Center’s existing building will be transformed into Center East, a state-of-the-art facility that will create thousands of good-paying jobs in the life sciences, while advancing life-saving cures and treatments for diseases impacting New Yorkers.”

Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio has long been a big proponent of the Blood Center’s transformation. Kallos, in fact, charges that Hizzoner’s support represents a severe conflict of interest because de Blasio still owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the same law firm representing the Blood Center’s redevelopment.  

“I remain frustrated that my community and I didn’t have a seat at the table as Mayor Bill de Blasio himself negotiated the project for developers represented by lobbyists, Kramer Levin, whom he owes more than $250,000 dollars for keeping him out of jail,” Kallos said in a statement ahead of this week’s City Council vote. “The community has demanded investigations, the mayor should have recused himself and still hasn’t answered if and when he will ever repay this five year old debt.”

Following the City Council vote, Kallos told LaborPress, “I’ve encouraged every project that has ever come before me to build union, and this project is no different.”


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