July 8, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – The umbrella group advocating for workers who engaged in job actions across some 30 construction sites around the city last week, is calling a judge’s order to return to work “superfluous,” while insisting that members can’t sustain further cuts to wage & benefit packages.
“The recent Court decision and restraining order is superfluous as the District Council has been instructing our members to comply with current PLAs [Project Labor Agreements] and Market Recovery Addendums since the commencement of the strike,” Joseph Geiger, executive secretary-treasurer for the NYC District Council of Carpenters said in a statement.
According Geiger, the council offered the Cement League — a trade group representing unionized concrete contractors — more than a 25-percent reduction in wage & benefit packages in an effort to reach a renewed collective bargaining agreement on July 1.
The NYC District Council of Carpenters, representing over 25,000 workers across a broad array of building trades, says it made the offer in an effort to help the Cement League regain market share, and secure a new agreement that was amenable to all parties involved.
“The hard working members of our union deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” Geiger continued. “After offering such a significant reduction in the wage and benefits package, the Cement League continued to request an additional four dollar reduction. Our members don't see reductions in their mortgages, food costs, and bills, yet the Cement League is asking them to balance their rising costs with less income. We are committed to recapturing market share, but not at the expense of putting our members’ financial security at risk. Reducing wages to such a severe extent doesn't help our economy; it hurts it.”
This week, Southern District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos invoked earlier pledges not to strike at PLA and Market Reovery Adendum sites, when he ordered workers back to their jobs at a number of big time construction projects, including Hudson Yards and the Central Park Tower.
Cement League Executive Michael Salgo expressed "frustration" with last week’s job actions, saying that they “send the wrong message.”
“At a time when union contractors are losing more and more market share to their non-union counterparts, for the carpenters’ union to stage illegal strikes on union sites where they had explicitly promised not to take such job actions, sends the wrong message altogether,” Salgo said in published reports.
But although striking workers have since returned to work, and negations between the two sides have resumed, Judge Ramos’ order only applied to job actions that occurred on work sites covered under PLAs or Market Recovery Adendums – actions which the NYC District Council of Carpenters insists it actively urged against.
Workers striking at job sites not covered under PLAs or Market Recovery Adendums were under no prior constraints to do so, however. According to the District Council of Carpenters, the group voluntarily called off those strikes as well, as a further show of good faith to the Cement League.