New York, NY – A new GoFundMe page aimed at aiding Ironworkers who choose to sacrifice a day’s pay rather than cross a union picket line, awarded its first donation to a hardhat outside 50 Hudson Yards on Wednesday morning, February 27, LaborPress has learned.
GoFundMe page administrator Brian Houser, 39, told LaborPress that he met with the unidentified Ironworker — one of three who was reportedly dispatched to work at the site early this morning — and made the $200 donation electronically.
“I know that, a lot of times, our leadership’s hands are tied. So, I said, you know what? I’m a rank & file guy — there’s nothing wrong with me asking the members of a Facebook page that I [and Marvin Tavarez] manage with 12,000 members, to start giving a few dollars a week,” the IUEC Local 1 apprentice said.
The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers rocked the labor community last week, when it placed Ironworkers Local 46 under supervision and fired Business Manager Terry Moore along with the rest of the executive board.
The highly respected Moore is a longtime supporter of the #CountMeIn movement and its ongoing campaign to help secure a Project Labor Agreement with developer Stephen Ross and Related Cos. for Phase II of the massive Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s West Side.
Local 46 had maintained a picket line outside Hudson Yards for well over a year. Moore’s ouster, along with the rest of Local 46’s executive board, occurred after the international inked an agreement with Related to start putting Ironworkers on the job, in a controversial break with the #CountMeIn campaign that is being met with much criticism.
“Terry Moore is a real fighting leader who has been doing everything he can to build unity in the Trades. The Intl. undermining his leadership hurts every trades worker in our movement,” Teamsters Local 814 President Jason Ide tweeted after Moore’s removal.
Members of the Concrete union are presently manning the picket line at four gates around the Hudson Yards site, according to Houser. So far, the Hudson Yards Rank & File Picket Relief Fund at GoFundMe has amassed $6,000 in little under a week.
Houser, who is set to take the elevator’s mechanic’s test in September, and devotes much of his time advocating for passage of the Elevator Safety Act, in addition to his advocacy work with the #CountMeIn campaign, is administering the GoFundMe account. But the Hudson Yards Rank & File Picket Relief Fund has five trustees, each representing a different trade, who have approval over fund allocations. Fund activity is being posted weekly to ensure transparency.
“I honestly feel throughout this campaign, every attempt to divide us has gone against [Related],” Houser said. “It hasn’t worked the way they planned. Every time they’ve tried to do something to divide us, we’ve actually flipped it and it’s empowered the campaign.”
The Astoria, Queens resident attributes his union advocacy to the education he’s received as an International Union of Elevator Constructors apprentice, as well as mentors like union organizer Freddie McCourt, who, last year, started an “adopt a striking Spectrum worker” effort.
“Local One has a great mentorship program,” Houser said. “They really taught us what people have sacrificed for us in the past.”
Relief fund trustee and LiUNA Local 79 apprentice Tafadar Sourov, said that the #CountMeIn campaign has “grown enormously as solidarity across the building trades has held strong for 16 months.”
“To date, nobody has crossed the line at 50 Hudson, even at the expense of their pay,” Sourov told LaborPress. “The billionaire developer that this movement is up against has enough money to outspend us in this struggle every day, but the bravery of the men and women who honor the picket line is more powerful.”
The tumult at Local 46 comes as the rest of the #CountMeIn campaign gears up for a large demonstration slated for March 15.
“Our local leaders have continued to stay strong on this and our rank and file are sticking together – from what I’m told from senior members — in a way they’ve never ever seen before,” Houser said. “It’s pretty amazing. Historically, every so often, the working class has to remind these greedy developers and corporations who we are — and that we won’t watch them exploit workers. No matter their affiliation, whether they’re union or nonunion, we’ll stand up for all of them.”