New York, NY – “Shame on you for killing the American Dream.”

Trade unionists fighting the spread of so-called “open shop” development throughout New York City brought the #CountMeIn campaign to the doorstep of some of the most influential powerbrokers in town on Thursday night. 

Steve Perez distributes flyers outside the University Club.

Authorities kept a vocal group of about 50 trade unionists penned across the street from the tony University Club located at 1 West 54th Street, site of the 2018 Wharton Club of New York’s Joseph Wharton Awards Dinner. But Metallic Lathers & Reinforcing Iron Workers Local Union 46 member Steve Perez stood just the outside the entranceway handing out flyers denouncing pro-“open shop” developer Related Cos. and exhorting attendees to enjoy their evening dining with “racists and union busters.”

“They looked like I bothered them — like I was an inconvenience to them as they’re going to a dinner with someone who’s trying to take away my family’s future,” Perez later told LaborPress.

They looked like I bothered them — like I was an inconvenience to them as they’re going to a dinner with someone who’s trying to take away my family’s future. –Steve Perez, Local 46

In addition to creating a race to the bottom in pursuit of so-called “open shop” development, trade unionists accuse Related, and its CEO Stephen Ross of allowing racism, sexism and union busting to exist on the developer’s many building projects. 

On Thursday night, the Building Trades’ ire was chiefly directed at Related Cos. CEO Jeff Blau, a Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania alum, expected to be attending the exclusive awards dinner. 

“One lady looked at me as if I disgusted her — like, ‘How could I be in front of her building?’” Perez added. “Shame on these people because they’re killing the American Dream.”

Trade unionists rally in the rain outside the Joseph Wharton Awards Dinner on W.54th Street Thursday night.

The Building Trades’ #CountMeIn campaign has been holding weekly demonstrations outside Related’s  massive Hudson Yards development site at 34th Street and 10th Avenue, as well as Related offices at 10 Columbus Circle, since last fall — after the developer announced it did not want to enter into another Project Labor Agreement [PLA] with the Trades for Phase II of the Hudson Yards development. 

Trade unionists subsequently began rallying outside of National Football League offices at 345 Park Avenue, calling on Ross to step down from the league’s Racial & Social Justice Committee. 

This week, Democratic State Senate candidate Jessica Ramos promised #CountMeIn demonstrators at 34th Street and 10th Avenue, that she will be taking their fight to the State Legislature.

“This is not a developer town — this is a worker town,” the Queens contender said. “Developers take, take, take. They ask for tax breaks. They ask for special favors. All we’re asking them, is to do what’s right by us. And it’s not too much to ask when you make billions of dollars every year, to make sure that workers are treated right; to make sure that workers are being paid union wages; to make sure workers have union protections on the job.”

The Building Trades hope to put thousands of trade unionists on the streets Tuesday, October 23, for a march and rally stretching from 6th Avenue & 50th Street to 10 Columbus Circle, in opposition to so-called “open shop” development. 

The Wharton Alumni Association for the NY Metropolitan Area is the institution’s largest alumni chapter worldwide with over 30,000 local members. Blau, along with Donald Trump, are Wharton products. The “Wharton Way” extolls graduates to “buy from Wharton alumni; hire Wharton alumni; and help Wharton Alumni.” 

Those interested in getting the latest updates about the October 23 march and rally are encouraged to text “CMI” to 577-577. 


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