March 1, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
Brooklyn, NY – The New York City District Council of Carpenters is butting heads with retail clothing giant Gap, Inc. this week, charging the company with using "sweatshop" labor imported from out-of-state to build a new Banana Republic store at 422 86th Street in Bay Ridge.
Late last week, the Carpenters dispatched the “Rat Patrol’ and began a public awareness campaign outside the Gap’s Factory Store on the same block as the now nearly complete Banana Republic outlet.
Gap, Inc. holdings includes Banana Republic, as well as Old Navy and Athleta stores.
According to an organizer with the Carpenters, Gap, Inc. has hired James Hunt Construction — an outfit the union views as a “sweatshop operator” — and is importing out-of-state labor from Ohio to work on the new 86th Street Banana Republic store.
The Ohio non-union workers are reportedly being put up at an area hotel and are getting paid nearly half as much as local union workers earn.
There are approximately 500 union Carpenters in southern Brooklyn — about a third of them are presently out of work.
“They could use that work,” Colon told LaborPress. “You’d think that [Gap, Inc.] would have some social responsibility to the community where they make their money, but they refuse to budge.”
The Carpenters have had communications with Gap, Inc. representatives, but those exchanges have not resulted in any meetings. Instead, local police were dispatched to the scene where the Carpenters were leafleting last Friday, and again the following Monday.
Just a few days ago, Gap, Inc. reported sagging fourth quarter earnings, coupled with a grim outlook for 2016.
“Sales are low, and I can see why they would want to cut corners, but they’re trying to do it on the backs of workers,” Colon added.
Gap, Inc has not responded to requests for comment. James Hunt Construction issued a "no comment."