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High-Powered Construction Outfit Shuts Out NYC Council Members Advocating for Cheated Workers

November 20, 2019

By Joe Maniscalco

NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca addresses trade unionists and non-union workers outside New Line Structures’ Seventh Avenue offices.

New York, NY – Members of the New York City Council hoping, on Tuesday, November 19, to deliver New Line Structures with a $70,000 invoice in the name of a group of unpaid workers, never got passed the guards dispatched to keep the elected officials far away from the construction management company’s Seventh Avenue offices. 

Council Members Francisco Moya, [D-21st District], Ben Kallos [D-5th District] and Carlos Menchaca [D-38th District] were, instead, forced to cool their heels outside the entranceway to 512 Seventh Avenue as scores of angry trade unionists and non-union construction workers cheered the trio acting on their behalf. 

“This is outrageous that we still have to do this in 2019,” Moya told LaborPress. “One of the most profitable management companies in the City of New York…cheating 20 workers out of $70,000 — they can easily pay that in an instant, but decided they don’t want to do that because they want to go ahead and choose to ignore what is happening. That’s really disgusting.”

This week’s rally denouncing New Line Structures’ ongoing abuse of workers and advocacy of so-called “open-shop” development, was the second time this fall, trade unionists and non-union construction workers have teamed up outside 512 Seventh Avenue to protest the top-tier company. 

Just last week, trade unionists alleging unsafe building conditions, rallied outside a New Line Structures construction project on West 14th Street and Sixth Avenue.

New Line Structures is a big player in New York City building and real estate industry, reportedly responsible for nearly 3 million square feet of construction between January 2012 and March 2017. 

“It’s private property — I get it,” Menchaca told LaborPress. “It’s frustrating that we can’t have direct access,  but we’re going to be following up as council members — especially the ones that were here.”

Kallos, who reintroduced legislation last year, aimed at tying prevailing wage mandates to publicly subsidized construction projects — said that beyond legislation and enforcement, elected officials need to “keep doing what we’re doing” and “unite and join” with defrauded workers.

You shall not pass: NYC council members are barred from gaining access to the offices of New Line Structures.

“[Ultimately], the best thing people can do, is to organize and use the power of numbers to stand up to developers,” he said. 

Moya complained that major obstacles to prevailing wage legislation and enhanced construction safety measures are coming from high-powered lobbyists representing “the other side of this.” 

“This is an epidemic — 70 construction workers have died in the last two years,” Moya said. “People think it’s just the price of doing business in the City of New York.”

Menchaca linked wage theft to unscrupulous contractors who are also guilty of endangering the lives of employees in a greedy pursuit of increased profits. 

“This is all connected — people who are stealing wages are also probably creating fraudulent site safety training conditions,” he said. “Laws [against wage theft and dangerous work conditions] exist right now. So, the question is — how do [unscrupulous contractors] get away with it?”

New Line Structures has not responded to LaborPress’ requests for comment. 

November 20, 2019

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