Scabby the Rat: A New York City Hero

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As non-union construction work proliferates in New York City, the giant inflatable rat shines a light on related labor disputes.

Let’s End the Steroid Era in New York City Construction

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When cheaters are allowed to cheat, it’s not only the honest players who suffer. Cheating hurts everyone.

There's a New Way to Unionize

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Modernize, adapt, relate. Can New York City’s non-union construction workers look to the ALU for realistic, fresh methods on organizing? 

Nine Lives Lost is Nine Too Many

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The annual tally of construction workers killed in New York City should be zero, but it will always be too high as long as non-union contractors are allowed to skirt the rules.

You Can’t Judge a Building By Its Cover

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In too many recently constructed New York City buildings, shoddy non-union workmanship is hidden beneath a gorgeous façade. Residents pay the price.

Non-Union Workers, Rise Up

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Can habitually abused and underpaid non-union construction workers in New York City look to the Amazon Labor Union for inspiration?

The Real Cost of Poor Pay
Part 3 of 3: The Gritty Truth About Construction Pay

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The construction business is booming like never before. So why are so many construction workers making a poverty wage? Ask the non-union contractors who employ them and developers who set the tone.

The Real Cost of Poor Pay
Part 2 of 3: Why Don't More Non-Union Workers Cross Over to a Union?

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Many non-union construction workers are abused by their bosses who are getting rich as a result. Why don't more of them seek the protection of a union? Part two of a three-part series.

The Real Cost of Poor Pay
Part 1 of 3: How We Got Here

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Non-union construction workers in New York City have historically been paid lower and lower wages, which affects the entire industry to this day. Part one of a three-part series.

To Find the Root of Construction Abuse, Follow the Money

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Abuse of construction workers won’t end until we make it unprofitable for the developers who encourage it.

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Unions are more popular with Americans than they have been in 60 years. So why is it so hard for American workers to join one?

NYC Construction in 2021: A Great Year. An Awful Year.

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Several notable events in 2021 impacted the New York City construction world, both immediately and in the long term — and the effects were both great and terrible.

Why Should You Care Who Builds NYC Buildings? Here Are 3 Good Reasons
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Where Is Our Outrage?

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Unscrupulous contractors cut corners on safety, unrepresented workers die on the job and the rich guys funding it all just keep getting richer. Why doesn't this anger us more?

One New York City construction worker has died on the job every month for the past five years. That’s the average when you factor over 60 deaths in 60 months. And the death rate is climbing, not falling. This may be the only big city where being a construction worker is more dangerous than being a police officer or a fire fighter. Why aren't people angrier?

Where Are The Building Inspectors?

Building inspectors police the construction industry—but are there enough of them?

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A building inspection during construction remains the most dependable means to ensure a construction zone in New York City is safe for workers and that the building is being erected according to the city’s laws. But does New York City have enough licensed inspectors to keep up with a booming industry, and if not, what will be the consequences for New Yorkers? 

Money or Life: You Choose

Non-union contractors choose to cut corners on safety to raise their profits, and their workers often pay for that choice with their lives. Now it’s time for us to choose.

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Would you ignore fatal negligence on the job if that negligence produced higher profit margins for your bosses? Would this choice represent your values? For many workers, the answer is not as simple as you might think.

What Happened to Carlos' Law?

The popular bill that will hold contractors responsible for lethal negligence has been stalled in the New York Senate since 2017.

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Why has Carlos’ Law, a popular bill that would vastly help protect the lives of New York City’s construction workers and hold negligent contractors accountable for safety violations, been stuck on the State Senate floor for more than four years while families continue to suffer?

 

We look at the tragedy that spurred the bill, and the bill's troubled history in the New York Senate.

How Unions Will Save Our Planet

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Unions are years ahead in the fight to stop climate change and in creating sustainable cities.

Ready for some happy news about climate change? Construction unions have positioned themselves to help stem the advance of global warming and control its effects going forward.

 

But first, the sobering part.

 

Climate change is happening right now, not in some distant decade. It. Is. Here. Now.

 

How we respond right now, and who we trust to lead us, will make all the difference.

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Tragedy Reveals a Union Benefit: Safer Workplaces, Fewer Deaths

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Whether making movies in New Mexico or buildings in New York City, unions know how to do it safely so all crew members get to go home after work. Non-unions, not so much.

It may not seem obvious at first glance, but there are a lot of common plot points connecting the recent accidental death of a cinematographer on the set of a movie with the deaths of scores of men over the past five years who worked in New York City’s construction industry.

 

The main connection: the absence of unions to protect the innocent. This has become an all-too-common tale.

Producers of projects, whether films or buildings, seek savings and control by hiring non-union labor. And too often, someone ends up dead.

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Luxury Waterfront Building Seems to be Anything But

Residents of Two Blue Slip describe ramshackle living experiences at the Greenpoint Landing property, which was built by non-union contractors.

Imagine you’re a young New York City renter who has scored a beautiful but expensive apartment. You’re overspending on rent, but the waterfront views in a happening Brooklyn area make the cost seem worth it. But when you move in—the roof literally falls in on you.

This is yet another buyer-beware story for people looking at New York City real estate built by non-union contractors.

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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.

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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

— Trident/ACS

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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.

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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.

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VIDEO SERIES

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

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

UPDATE

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OPINION

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.

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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.

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ANALYSIS

The Real Cost of City Living

A Debate Gaffe Reveals What New Yorkers Actually Get When They Pay Top-Dollar For Their Homes

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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. 

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America Has

Union Envy

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?

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THE HUMAN TOLL

The Waldorf:

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.

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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.

UPDATE:

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.

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Luis Muñoz
Angel Muñoz
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FEATURE

If it Cost Less to Make, it Should Cost Less to Buy, But...

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.

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INTERVIEW

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.”

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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.

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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.

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NON-UNION BY THE NUMBERS

85.5 %

NYC Work Site Deaths
 
–Private Sector
Since 2015–
*Source

$761M

Public Cost of Wage Theft
 
–In New York
in 2016–
 
*Source

$3.9M

Fines for Wage Theft
 
–Settlements
Since 2015–
 
*Source
Quality Suffers

Saving money on construction often means cutting corners, which starts a domino effect. Yeah, scary metaphor when you’re talking about buildings.

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Who Saves Money?
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A closer look shows who reaps the savings from cheaper construction labor. Spoiler alert: It’s not you!

Fraud & Abuse
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From stealing worker wages to negligent manslaughter, non-union fraud causes major grief —for workers and for you.

YOU COMPARE

When developers choose non-union, it hurts more than the building

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NEWS

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.

UNION-BUILT MATTERS

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.

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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.

Unions Gave Us This and More

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WHAT YOU CAN DO

To Help Protect Our Skyline

Take Our Survey Woman in High Rise copy.
Take Our Short Survey
It’s anonymous and easy, and will help us know what New Yorkers expect.
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Email Your City Councilman
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When looking at NYC high-rise real estate, here's a short list of questions to ask your rep.
Ask These Questions
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