By: Tafadar Sourov
After working a long day, many construction workers met at 34th street Hudson Yards yesterday afternoon. Despite the cold around a hundred workers showed up, some from the Hudson Yards construction sites. They stood behind a large banner that says #CountMeIn as part of a growing movement against the union busting tactics of the developer, Related Companies.
“Everywhere we go, people want to know
Who we are, so we tell them
We are the unions, the mighty mighty unions!”
The protest was to appeal to the workers on the Hudson Yards construction sites to reject the turkeys that related was offering for Thanksgiving. The rallying workers spoke about how with a Project Labor Agreement (which would ensure union labor be used for the development), workers could afford their own turkeys for the holiday season.
During the rally, one of the organizers, Bernard Callegari inspired a huge round of applause when he announced that less than a hundred workers had shown up to take turkeys (there were 1800 turkeys in total); most of them ended up donated theirs to charity on the spot.
Related is a $50 billion company, and they have raised $18 billion for the Hudson Yards redevelopment. The largest construction project in North America, it will transform 28 acres of Midtown Manhattan into residential, retail, and commercial space while creating tens of thousands of jobs.
The concern of union workers is that this project will set a major precedent against unions for the future of work in New York. The danger is enough that rank and file workers have been mobilizing every week to protest Related. A thousand workers from across the building trades rallied at Hudson Yards last week to condemn Related for attempting to set unions against each other, and exploiting their employees who are working below the value of what their labor is worth without a Project Labor Agreement.
Whether or not the Hudson Yards is built union will be a tipping point in the growing trend of open shops (jobs where non union can be hired alongside union labor) in this city. With recent collapsing scaffolds injuring bystanders and disturbingly high death tolls on non union jobs over the last few years, the demand to unionize the Hudson Yards takes on a larger meaning. The union cause is about the safety and livelihood of all working people
The movement will continue, with the next rally scheduled for 6AM on Wednesday November 22 at 34th st and 10th ave.
Tafadar Sourov a long time community organizer from The Bronx, and a rank and file activist of Laborers Local 79.
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