April 23, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Brooklyn, NY—“There oughta be a law,” boomed Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council outside Borough Hall as tradesmen gathered to protest what they say is a lack of responsible development by the developer group Starwood Capital. Video
The rally at Borough Hall was organized by Build Up NYC, a coalition of tradesmen, hotel and building service workers’ unions, is one of four actions being taken throughout the city over the next three weeks to highlight building practices by developers who are skirting safety laws and hiring mostly non-union labor without providing benefits.
In the video, LaBarbera criticized Starwood Capital’s apparent disregard for safety by hiring contractors that have safety violations.
“They are using contractors that have many safety violations. They are using contractors that don’t have proper safety training for their workers. We can’t stand for this,” LaBarbera said.
The actions will culminate with an event to remember construction workers who have died on the job. Just this month alone, two construction workers fell to their deaths.
On April 2, at the Dream Hotel on 210 W. 55th Street, a worker was working on the façade of the building using a supported scaffold and fell about 80 feet through an area that was unprotected due to the removal of planks, according to the Department of Buildings.
Then on Monday, April 14 a 34-year old worker who was on the roof of a building on West 33rd Street fell 10 stories onto a second-floor scaffolding.
LaBarbera said that at one of those job sites nobody attended to the victim after the accident.
“Everyone left the job site and left the worker there. That is wrong and unacceptable. As far as I’m concerned those are irresponsible developers and contractors that is putting greed over life. That can’t be tolerated in this borough or any borough.”
The coalition is targeting Starwood Capital’s Brooklyn Bridge Park project and the Kushner Companies’ Watchtower Redevelopment Plan in Brooklyn because they say that both developers are not hiring contractors who provide industry standard wages, benefits and training.
They point to some of Starwood’s ongoing projects as examples of the developer’s apparent disregard for proper safety protocols. According to Build Up NYC, a worker with no harness fell from a scaffold that had no rails at the Stella Tower at 435 West 50th Street in Manhattan. As a result, the Department of Buildings issued a partial stop work order.
Kushner Companies is leading the redevelopment of the 1.2 million square foot Watchtower site into a mixed-use campus with at least 50 percent high-tech commercial space. But the coalition says the developer has refused to commit to hiring responsible construction, operations and maintenance contractors.
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