April 2, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Worker advocates hoping to check unscrupulous building contractors by raising lending standards, say that some of the biggest investors in the country now have a clear picture of industry abuses following a special forum held in Washington, D.C. earlier this week.
Bernie Evers, Ironworkers International chief of staff, called the potential impact on investors “phenomenal.”
“You could tell by their responses that they were shocked,” Evers told LaborPress. “They couldn’t believe these types of abuses happened in this country.”
Local ironworkers striking against the Auringer family of companies here in New York City, provided the stunning testimony.
Ithier Lopez, LaFondra Brown and Carol Turner all walked off their job sites in the Bronx last year, citing serial patterns of abuse resulting in severe injury, loss of earned income and other assaults on their dignity as workers.
“Many people were moved by the Auringer employees and how brave they were,” said Erin Hutson, LiUNNA director of corporate affairs. “I think it affected people deeply.”
The striking ironworkers have since been invited to other forums around the country to share their stories of on-the-job abuse.
Despite the emotional impact, however, it remains unclear just how much giant lenders like Mass Mutual and Cornerstone have been moved to adopt new responsible lending policies that could shield workers like Lopez, Brown and Turner.
The lending companies are being sought for comment.
Hutson suggested that the lenders might be at least considering the possibility of revising their lending policies, but said, “We don’t have anything in front of us.”
In the meantime, worker advocates say that they will continue to build a strong coalition squarely aimed at strengthening industrywide lending standards.
“The people that were in attendance this week are thinking differently now,” Evers said. “This is only the first step.”