New York, NY – “Tut-tut and not to worry,” the proponents of so called “open shop” development like to insist; “New York City is a union town and that’s not ever going away.” But with their fat feet firmly wedged in the door, who doesn’t really believe that “broken shop” developers won’t be satisfied until they’ve gobbled up every construction job on the block?
Not this week’s Blue Collar Buzz guest Justice Favor, that’s for sure.
On a new Blue Collar Buzz episode now available online, the Local 79 organizer tells BCB that the more aptly named “broken shop” development model utilizing poorly paid, unrepresented non-union labor, is just a “sophisticated way to institute right-to-work [rules]” right here in New York City.
“It’s a simple mechanism to divide and conquer, and just continue to bring down the wage,” Favor says.
Some estimates put non-union market share in New York as high as 50 percent, with the largest incursions occurring on residential construction projects reaching 20- to 25-stories high.
That’s a whole lot of missed opportunities to create solid middle-class jobs with good wages, healthcare and training — all for the sake of further lining the already deep pockets of developers who bemoan union labor costs that are said to be 20- to 25-percent more than non-union labor.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and his much-vaunted program to build or maintain 200,000 affordable housing units over 10 years, has not been any help, continually balking at the idea of compelling developers to utilize union labor.
So what if the death toll on non-union construction sites continue to rise? As Blue Collar Buzz Co-Host Bill Hohlfeld points out, “The horses in Central Park get more sympathy than dead construction workers.”
But at least hard-pressed New Yorkers are finally getting the affordable housing units they so desperately need. Right? Not so.
As LaborPress’ Steve Wishnia points out, of the 80,000 new apartments slated to be built under Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, as little as 16,000 of them will actually be affordable to residents earning less than $35,000 annually.
“Broken shop” development, Favor continues, is really just another attempt to “eradicate” labor unions while simultaneously exploiting the lives of poorly paid non-union construction workers.
“What [broken shop] does is, it creates unsafe work conditions,” Favor says this week. “Most of the time, individuals are not trained the same way. It [also] creates hostility in the workplace.”
And sometimes, that hostility explodes in the face of non-union construction workers when they have the temerity to ask for things — like the paychecks they’ve earned, for instance.
The ultra-chic 1,418 foot residential tower going up at 111 West 57th Street may be the epitome of so-called “open shop” development. But when a 30-year-old non-union construction worker confronted his supervisor about missing paychecks last summer, the worker was thrown to the ground and suffered a shattered leg.
Cheaper development comes at a cost — and it should be one that the City of New York is unwilling to pay.
As favor tells Blue Collar Buzz, “Non-union workers are being exploited. [And] how come there is no outrage in the mainstream media?”
LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airs every Sunday night on AM970 The Answer from 9 to 10 p.m. This week’s episode, as well as every other episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” is also available on demand at www.am970theanswer.com.