February 19, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – The question of who actually builds the expansive Essex Crossing project in Lower Manhattan is still to be determined, but a new jobs training agreement between the development team and 32BJ SEIU means that as many 80 new union jobs will be created once the mixed-use site is built.
Work on the massive project is set to begin this summer. When completed, Essex Crossing, the largest undeveloped parcel of land in Manhattan below 96th Street, will boast the new Essex Street Market, a 15,000 square-foot park and 1,000 units of residential housing.
Half of those apartments are slated to be affordable. And thanks to this week’s job training deal between the development team and 32BJ SEIU, as well as a commitment to hire local, the units could also theoretically become home to the roughly 80 maintenance and security personnel that will help staff the site.
“That’s important because when people can afford to live in the areas in which they work, it sustains communities,” 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer Kyle Bragg told LaborPress this week.
According to the agreement between Delancey Street Associates [DSA] and 32BJ, the union will supply instructors who can provide job recruits with the “hard” training they need to be hired at Essex Crossing.
David Garza, executive director of the Henry Street Settlement, called the local training and hiring commitment a “win-win for the Lower East Side.”
“Our residents benefit from access to high-quality employment opportunities, 32BJ benefits from a customized recruitment process with trusted partners, and this unique collaboration helps Delancey Street Associates to deliver a meaningful benefit to the community,” Garza said in a statement.
The new agreement to provide job training as part of the development is said to be the first of its kind, and Bragg expressed his hopes that it will soon be replicated around the city.
“Hopefully, with its success, other developers will look at it and want to model behind it,” the secretary-treasurer said.
Ron Moelis, one of the development team’s principals, praised the public-private workforce development partnership, and said that after decades of community feedback, the Essex Crossing project is being crafted to “reflect the soul of the Lower East Side.”
DSA members got a ton of community feedback at a NYC Housing Development Corporation hearing held in November, in which members of the Concrete Industry Coalition testified about the abuses they regularly encountered on Auringer-affiliated construction sites.
Auringer is one of the largest non-union contractors in the city, and a major sub-contractor for DSA development partners. But disgusted Auringer employees have walked off jobsites charging worker abuses ranging from wage theft to sexual harassment.
A new video documentary released earlier this week, depicts the plight of some of those workers, and calls on the city to stop doing business with Auringer.
At the November NYC Housing and Development Corporation hearing, a spokesperson for DSA members called workers’ horror stories “informative,” but declined to comment further.
DSA has reportedly still not decided on who they’ll ultimately hire to construct the Essex Crossing project, but it's getting high marks for working with 32BJ SEIU to staff it.
New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball released a statement saying, “I commend DSA for its commitment to ensuring that Essex Crossing’s neighbors are trained and readied for the dozens of quality property service jobs the project will create."