Is This the Beginning of the End of Construction Corruption?
New York tackles wage theft. What's next?
On Labor Day New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed State Senate bill 2766c, also known as the Wage Theft bill, into law. While this development is very positive for the working people of New York City who have been getting ripped off by greedy developers and contractors for years, is this good turn simply a one-off, or is it the beginning of a larger, long-overdue correction?
We break it down here.
Why Should You Care Who Builds NYC Buildings? Here Are 3 Good Reasons
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$20 Million Stolen Every Week
When management steals wages from construction workers they steal important benefits from you too. Learn the names of the companies accused of wage theft.
Every week hard-working New York laborers have $20 million stolen from their earnings. Every week parents who expected to earn enough to live in NY must forego daycare to pay the rent, or skip health care to afford groceries. Or make even more difficult life-decisions.
Wage theft is a crime perpetrated by the managers of some New York construction companies to lower their cost of doing business. They undercount hours, ignore overtime, collect and then keep health insurance dues.
Here is a list of some of the construction companies caught or accused of stealing from their staffs and you.
— Casino Development Group
— CRV Precast Construction
— Highbury Concrete
— Parkside Construction
— RNC Industries
— Rovini Concrete
— Sky Materials Corporation
— SSC High Rise
The Fight Against Exploitation
As a vulnerable work force is victimized, communities start to push back.
Running for president, Donald Trump appealed to white nationalism and racism to mobilize his voter base. He bashed Mexican immigrants as criminals, threatening the safety and security of native-born Americans.
But employers know better when it comes to hiring and retaining foreign-born workers. Take the U.S. construction industry, where employers rely on immigrant workers to help get the job done, especially after the Great Recession, which drove a decrease in the ranks of native-born workers and increase in the hiring of immigrants.
But with the increase of immigrants in the workforce –many of them undocumented – the opportunity for their exploitation is also heightened. And the harm that is done hits not just the workers being exploited, but every single American.
Now, some are fighting back.
Could What Happened in Miami Happen in New York?
Experts fear that construction corner-cutting may have been a cause of the collapse. Some workers tell us that similar corners are being cut in New York City construction today.
Weeks after the accordion collapse of a Miami high-rise condo in which nearly 150 people are feared lost, experts are looking inside the images of the broken support columns and wondering if they are seeing a construction flaw that may be to blame for the fall.
If their suspicions are correct, then we better start looking inside some New York City high rises too.
New York Vs. Wage Theft
Powerful New York leaders talk about the fight to return wages, safety and dignity to the middle class workers being victimized by greed.
New York Attorney General Letitia James on how her administration is battling wage theft.
New York State Senator Jessica Ramos on fighting for laws that will protect our middle class.
New York City Council Member Francisco Moya on the importance of unions and fighting greedy developers.
HELP PROTECT OUR SKYLINE
Make It A Law: Hire Unions
When Developers Put Up a Huge Building, They Should Be Required to Hire Unions to Build it – There's Too Much at Stake For All of Us
Many non-unionized construction companies are responsible for a raft of harm that affects every New Yorker. When these bad actors win big projects, they gain access to a larger opportunity to commit larger harms. “But don’t we have laws against that kind of behavior?” you reasonably ask. Yes, there are laws, but they’re weak and they are not succeeding at curbing bad activity.
In the $45B-per-year industry that is New York City Construction, the malfeasance is worse today than ever. We need bold moves that will make a difference quickly.
We need to require developers to hire unions for especially large projects.
As Non-Union Contractors Cut Costs, Building Quality Suffers
Construction workers talk about deceiving inspectors, outdated materials and worse.
Ivan Duta worked for years for one of New York’s largest open-shop contractors, Parkside Construction. “Open-shop” refers to businesses that choose not to hire unionized labor. So, it’s not really a surprise that Parkside has a long rap-sheet of violations, including wage theft, insurance fraud, and safety negligence that resulted in the death of a worker.
Mr. Duta experienced all those abuses, except the death one. He is very much alive and a member of New York’s Local 46 Ironworkers and Metal Lathers union, and he has stories about his time working at non-union shops that might make your heart stop if you're shopping real estate in New York.
The Real Cost of City Living
A Debate Gaffe Reveals What New Yorkers Actually Get When They Pay Top-Dollar For Their Homes
During the 2021 New York mayoral campaign, the candidates were asked to estimate the median price of a home in Brooklyn. Some of their responses displayed an out-of-touchness that one might find disqualifying.
But looking beyond the miscalculation of estimates, the true answer to that question illustrates what New Yorkers pay for real estate and what they get, and it begs a follow up. Are we getting what we pay for?
The Time for the PRO Act is Now
Congress Needs Your Voice
On March 9 the US House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (The PRO Act). If enacted this bill will reinforce the rights of workers all over America to unionize — rights that have been attacked and whittled away for years by powerful business interests and their collaborators in government.
Why do workers need the right to organize?
We live in a free country. And we've all seen what happens when we cede all the power to management, as has been happening more and more for decades. The result is extreme inequality and worse.
We Want More and Stronger Unions
Here is an astonishing juxtaposition of two datapoints in America today. At a time when union membership of our workforce is at a record low of 10.3%, a large majority of Americans, 65% of us, hold a positive view of unions.
We admire something that most of us don’t have access to. Can this be called union-envy?
THE HUMAN TOLL
Where Luxury Masks Tragedy
The remodel of the famous luxury hotel into deluxe mid-town condominiums is the site of ugly segregation and repeated worker injuries. It seems that this trade-off is worth it to some construction companies.
Gregory Ecchevarria Didn't Need to Die
He survived more than 10 years of active military service in Afghanistan and Iraq, but couldn't survive New York City's increasingly deadly construction industry. This is his story.
Family Sues for Wrongful Death
Two years after the crane accident that caused Gregory Ecchevarria's death, his family has sued the building owners, project developer, and contractor companies. Mr. Ecchevarria's fiance, Sarah Ramirez, said "His death is not going to be just brushed under the carpet."
Which Brother Will Live, Which Won't?
The answer has to do with whether they were in a union or not.
This is the story of Luis and Angel Muñoz, two brothers who came to New York City from Ecuador with exceptional carpentry skills and dreams of prosperity. One is realizing those dreams, the other is dead. Union membership is the key difference.
Email Your City Councilman
Tell them you want better safety laws and enforcement for NYC construction workers. Just pick your rep, add your name, and hit send.
Share Your Construction Story
Have a NYC construction story to tell us? Want to make NYC safe for all construction workers? We’ll take your words, pictures, or videos.
If a product costs less to make, you should pay less for it. So how would you feel about paying a Cadillac price for a Kia?
You’d be outraged. Well, that overpay scenario may be happening every day to purchasers of high-rise real estate in New York City. Here's a look at why that matters.
Building Inspector Exposes "Night & Day" Difference on Job Sites
One building inspector for a prominent New York firm who examines new high-rise construction and large remodels, says that he has seen “a very stark difference in terms of safety between union sites and non-union.”
The City Mayor Who is on the Record for Unions
Mayor Bill Finch of Bridgeport, CT, 50 miles from New York City, has first-hand experience with construction unions and non-union builders, and he's speaking out about the huge difference he encountered.
Real Estate Pro on Union vs. Non-Union Buildings
Steve Hodson, president of Hodson Realty, is a 40-year pro in the real estate business. He's represented all sorts of buildings over the decades, and he's got opinions on who makes the best product and why you're not hearing this opinion more often.
As of 2019 construction is New York City’s most deadly occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That includes policing and firefighting.
How did we get here?
The Deadliest Job in New York City: Construction Worker
Saving money on construction often means cutting corners, which starts a domino effect. Yeah, scary metaphor when you’re talking about buildings.
Who Saves Money?
A closer look shows who reaps the savings from cheaper construction labor. Spoiler alert: It’s not you!
Fraud & Abuse
From stealing worker wages to negligent manslaughter, non-union fraud causes major grief —for workers and for you.
When developers choose non-union, it hurts more than the building
The Leaning Tower of Pizzarotti
It matters who you hire.
The most experienced, best quality work crews in New York City belong to its best-in-the-world construction unions. Developers who shun them do so at their own peril. Here’s just one more very expensive case study to prove that point: The Seaside Condominiums, also known as “The Leaning Tower of Pizzarotti.”
The 58-story high-rise condominium in New York’s seaport district being put up by general contractor Pizzarotti IBC, LLC — who chose to hire non-union — is leaning to the north.
Buildings aren’t supposed to lean.
Find Out If Your High-Rise Is Union-Built
When it comes to high-rise structures, quality construction can be the difference between a wonderful experience, and a nightmare. Find out who built your high-rise super structure, and more.
In addition to New York's world class skyline, unions have given America some quality-of-life benefits that we all hold dear. Discover just some of the standards we enjoy because a union fought for and won them, for us all.