Photos obtained from CountMeIn Facebook Page
On October 11th, union construction workers of the Hudson Yards came out to protest Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau outside of the Joseph Wharton Awards Dinner at the University Club of New York, where he was in attendance. Workers protested CEO Blau because of racism and sexism in the workplace, and the company’s union-busting tactics.
Steve Perez, a member of Metallic Lathers & Reinforcing Iron Workers Local Union 46, was distributing flyers outside of the Awards Dinner to inform attendees about the company’s mistreatment the workers. According to Labor Press report, Perez said that the fliers: “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.”
The Hudson Yards redevelopment project is the largest construction project in North America and the largest private real estate project in US history. It is considered the largest development in New York City since the Rockefeller Centre, and it will have a significant impact on the NYC economy while creating thousands of new jobs. The site takes up more than 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space.
The impact the project has is considerable in New York. The Open shop agenda pushed by Related Co. may create a precedent for the expansion of the already growing open shop work model. The struggle of workers against the open shop model is crucial for future labor struggles that will take place in the city.
Since December 2017, workers have been fighting against the union-busting tactics of the bosses. Since then, workers have been regularly doing protests in front of the construction site every Thursday morning at 6 a.m 34th Street & 10th Ave. There are currently 4,000 workers in the site.
The open shop model pushed by project developers include both union and non-union construction workers on the same projects. This has resulted in the weakening of safety standards in many construction sites, and serious injuries and deaths as a result of unsafe working conditions.
Construction workers from different branches have a message: #CountMeIn. Since last year, their struggle has found more and more supporters as the movement advances. In addition to that, the workers have not limited their struggle to only their own site and union. They have appeared and brought attention to several labor events, such as Labor Day 2018 and the New School graduate students strike.