New York, NY – Trade unionists bringing the fight against so-called “open shop” development back to billionaire Stephen Ross’ doorstep this weekend, called “bullshit” on Hudson Yards developers crowing about how they — and not working men & women — create jobs.
“[The property] comes from the city to begin with — that’s the common ownership of the people,” Laborers Local 79 member Freddie Bastone told LaborPress just prior to the kickoff of this year’s Labor Day Parade. “And the workers, themselves, have always produced the wealth in this city. We’re talking about the largest real estate development in all of American history, and the financing going into that comes right out of our pockets. And we built those buildings — we build New York. So, we’re the ones who create the real wealth — they don’t create anything. If we’re going to have class warfare brought to us, we’re going to have to bring in to them.”
Ross’ Released Cos.and its development partners overseeing the massive Hudson Yards project on Manhattan’s West Side are already benefiting from hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies, tax breaks and loans.
“What the developers are doing…they supervise the process of bringing together the money and the workers. But if we’re really talking about who makes the job run, who actually makes sure all this wealth is used to produce — it’s us,” fellow Laborers Local 79 member Tafadar Sourov told LaborPress. “We’re the producers. We’re the workers. Nothing happens without us. And if we’re not allowed to organize and collectively bargain, then something is seriously wrong with the picture.”
We’re the producers. We’re the workers. Nothing happens without us. — Tafadar Sourov, Laborers Local 79
In statements and lawsuits aimed at the Building & Construction Trades Council [BCTC] and its president, Gary LaBarbera, Hudson Yards developers have repeatedly boasted, “The BCTC does not create jobs, we do.”
At Saturday’s pre-Labor Day Parade rally at 10 Columbus Circle, #CountMeIn Campaign Director Mike Hellstrom further took fat cat developers to task.
“I say this to every developer: get up in the more and work a piece of steel,” Hellstrom said. “Get up in the morning and mix mortar; get up in the morning and hang Sheetrock; get up in the morning and lay tile; get up in the morning and tape, and paint and scrape — and then come tell me we make too much. They would give themselves a frigging raise.”
Ross and his Hudson Yards developers have cited the higher cost of union labor for their refusal to enter into another Project Labor Agreement with the BCTC for Phase II of the project, and their desire to proceed with a so-called “open shop” building model utilizing lower-paid nonunion workers.
“Without union labor, these buildings don’t go up,” Sourov, 23, added. “I was just working on an ‘open-shop’ development, and you really get to see first-hand why it’s called, ‘broken shop.’ Everything is faulty, everything is always breaking down. There’s always a leak here and there. [Hudson Yards] really can’t be built without our [union] skills.”
Numerous trade unions — including Ironworkers Local 46, Teamsters and Elevator Constructors — have refused work at Hudson Yards while the stalemate between Related and the Building Trades continues.
“[Hudson Yards developers] should be ashamed of trying to bust our union,” Hellstrom said. “This fight does not end, it does not stop, until there is a contact is in place to make sure that every single trade of the Building Trades is working on 50 [Hudson Yards] and the West Yards.”