August 8, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Tradesmen here protested outside WeWork’s offices on Broadway on Thursday because they say the company is paying low wages and not adhering to prevailing wages.
In a video interview, Jerry Matthews, a New York City District Council of Carpenters representative, said that the wages WeWork is paying to non-union tradesmen is undermining the prevailing wages that general contractors are expected to pay in New York City.
“It’s not fair to the American people and to the hard working construction members here who have to feed their families and pay their mortgage,” said Matthews.
According to WeWork’s website, the company says is a community of creators that “transform buildings into beautiful, collaborative workspaces.”
The company is in the business of creating and building workspaces for mostly freelancers and aspiring entrepreneurs and makes money by leasing the space that comes equipped with Wi-Fi, printing, conference rooms and screening and editing rooms. Modeled on the different types of amenities you’ll find on Google or Apple’s campuses in Silicon Valley, WeWork spaces also feature shared kitchens, sports bar lounges and organic coffee.
The company was founded by Adam Neumann in 2010; Matthews said he’s tried to meet with Mr. Neumann several times.
“We just wish that Adam Neumann would come talk with us. But at this point he ignores us and refuses to speak to us about anything,” said Matthews.
At the end of the interview, Matthews pleaded with Mr. Neumann to talk.
“Come out and see us Adam, come talk to us.”
Lenny Anselmo, a representative with the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 79, said that WeWork’s practices are undermining the city’s economy even though the city has been undergoing a construction boom for the last several years.
“We’re standing out here for better wages and good jobs. We’re tired of seeing workers being underpaid. If you are doing any kind of construction it should be good wages, with good benefits and a good retirement. The developers are making billions of dollars in New York,” said Anselmo.
Anselmo said that members with Local 79 would be protesting again outside WeWork’s offices on 25 Broadway on Friday, but hopes that WeWork will talk with the tradesmen.
“We’re hoping that WeWork will sit down and talk with us and pay their workers a decent, living wage.”