Union construction workers in New York City will protest against the open shop policy of their company with the slogan of “No Retreat, No Surrender” on March 15 at 8 am. The workers will be out on the worksite in Hudson Yards on the day when the official opening festivities take place.
However, workers are facing another oppression from inside the labor movement now. On February 19, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers fired the leadership of Local 46, with which they have affiliation. It came after the D.C. based union negotiated with the Related Company for its members to work on various projects within the development.
According to Sally Goldenberg from Politico, the union said its board unanimously decided “to place Local Union No. 46L … under international supervision and control effective as of February 19, 2019” in a letter to its officers and members.
According to claims, the Local 46 business manager, Terry Moore, and others in the leadership were told they would have to reapply for their jobs, according to several sources involved in the dispute.
The national union declared all Local 46 offices vacant and suspended all membership and executive committee meetings. The union’s officers were told to surrender “all funds, assets, property, books, keys to the office of Local Union No. 46L, records and other documents they have in their possession” that belong to the union, according to the letter, which was obtained by Politico.
Former union president John Skinner tweeted his displeasure:
“Just going to say this. Any union organization officials that say you need to cross a picket line are a disgrace to the labor movement. They should be ashamed of themselves. And their members should demand they resign,” he wrote Wednesday afternoon.
The national union stepped into the local fight after Local 46 members refused to cross a picket line to work on 50 Hudson Yards — a 985-foot-tall office tower — and the second phase of the entire development known as the Western Yard, according to four sources familiar with the dispute who would only speak on the condition of anonymity.
Based on the same Politico report, ”This has really come down to that the rank and file believe in solidarity and that the #countmein movement has built that,” said one Local 46 member, referring to a campaign to organize workers opposing Related over labor issues at Hudson Yards.
“The solidarity that has been built down there hasn’t been seen or rivaled in New York in a long time. So in some ways I’d say this is a big betrayal of that growing movement,” the person said, adding, “The international cannot make a member cross a picket line.”
The simmering fight boiled over when Related sued the union umbrella group, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, and its president Gary LaBarbera, over work productivity at Hudson Yards.
The first half of Hudson Yards was built under the terms of a project labor agreement negotiated with LaBarbera’s group. Related is refusing to sign a new agreement for the second half of the project but is working out individual deals with union leaders, including one last year with carpenters.
A spokesperson for Related declined to comment to Politico, as did LaBarbera.
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 under the banner of #CountMeIn campaign. 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.
How to support Count Me In
1. Call your NYS assembly person and senator, urging them to vote yes on the public works bill on April 1st. So many contractors getting public money are getting away with paying their non union construction workforce pennies in exchange for blood and sweat. The bill includes language that would make any publicly funded development a prevailing wage job.
2. Donate to the Hudson Yards Picket Line Relief Fund. The trades have been sticking together and not crossing the line to work at 50 Hudson Blvd. We arent going to fall for the tactics of the billionaire real estate king trying to get us to turn on each other. Help those workers who are making a sacrifice by honoring the line, make a donation to the relief fund. Click here.
3. Come out to the Hudson Yards on March 15th: “ 3/15 is our day – we will not be deterred nor will we retreat – what side of history will you be on #CountMeIn https://www.facebook.com/events/492948141231612/