NYC Council Joins #CountMeIn
Building Trades, Features, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York

NYC Council Joins #CountMeIn

October 18, 2018

By Joe Maniscalco

New York, NY – The Building Trades can now count the New York City Council in. 

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Council Member Costa Constantinides  [D-District 22], on Wednesday, introduced a resolution backing the #CountMeIn campaign’s ongoing fight against so-called “open show” development at Hudson Yards and the rest of the city. 

“You deserve to get healthcare; you deserve to get good training and protections; and you deserve to have a way to retire and take care of your family,” Council Member Constantinides told trade unionists prior to introducing the resolution. “But that’s not what’s happening in this country right now. We have a race to the bottom where unions across this nation are under attack. And now, we see right here in New York City — the home of what unions are all about — you have developers attempting to have us all race to the bottom by having open shop [development].”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson [D-District 3] called efforts to strengthen the Labor Movement in New York City “common sense.” 

“The numbers don’t lie — almost 94 percent of worksite fatalities in 2016 were nonunion,” the speaker said. “What does that tell you? Union jobs are safer jobs. When you hire union, you are hiring someone who has been trained to do the job in the right way. Union workers go through apprenticeships and continuing education programs. These programs ensure that the job is being done right. Nonunion workers do not have this training. Isn’t that what every developer should  and would want — highly trained workers? Isn’t that what New Yorkers expect on a job site in New York City?”

Mike Hellstrom, #CountMeIn campaign director.

Related Cos., developers of the massive Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s West Side, sparked the #CountMeIn campaign last fall, after balking at signing onto a Project Labor Agreement for Phase II of the project.

Mike Hellstrom, #CountMeIn campaign director, called the nearly year-old struggle, the “direct answer to greedy developers in New York City.”

“The Count Me In movement is a direct answer to greedy developers in New York City that are seeking to destroy our way of life; that are seeking to undermine the middle class here in New York City, and are seeking to put away 100 years of collective bargaining in the construction industry here in New York City,” Hellstrom said. “It’s a direct answer to Relates Cos. — the biggest private sector developer in the United States of America with over $26 billion of development on the West Side known as the Hudson Yards — and their attempt to put union workers alongside untrained, exploited nonunion workers on the same job site.”

The Count Me In movement is a direct answer to greedy developers in New York City that are seeking to destroy our way of life. — #CountMeIn’s Mike Hellstrom

Numerous City Council members, in addition to Public Advocate Tish James, turned out on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to voice their support of the #CountMeIn resolution. 

“I have a message for developers: when you cut corners, when you run an open shop, when you bring in nonunion workers, you are hurting yourselves, and the work will suffer,” Speaker Johnson said. “Untrained people could get injured, and they have gotten injured. And you’re putting women and men who have paid their dues, out of work. You are hurting families; you are taking food off of their tables.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides.

CountMeIn campaign rallies consistently held outside Hudson Yards and Related Cos. offices at 10 Columbus Circle have begun to expand, of late, in an effort to put additional pressure on Related Cos head honcho Stephen Ross and his lieutenants. The movement anticipates putting thousands of trade unionists on the streets October 23, in an “epic” anniversary march and rally from 50th Street & 6th Avenue to 10 Columbus Circle. 

“We stand in solidarity with workers — all workers,” said Melissa Shetler, director of organizing for Local 46 Metallic Lathers & Reinforcing Ironworkers.  “The expansion of organized labor is the expansion of protections for all workers.”

With its resolution in support of the Building Trades’ #CountMeIn campaign, Speaker Johnson said the City Council is putting developers on notice.

“Today, we are introducing a resolution in support of the #CountMeIn campaign,” he said. “We are putting developers on notice. We see what’s going on; we want good middle-class jobs in our city. So, let’s do the sensible thing. Let’s sit down, let’s come to terms, let’s negotiate in a fair and meaningful way, and let’s bring high-skilled union workers back to construction sites where they belong.”

October 18, 2018

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