Monday, March 12, 2018

In Hudson Yards dispute, far more than cost is at stake

A power struggle at the largest private development in the country markks a turning point in NYC's consruction industry 
Joe Anuta and Daniel Geiger report for Crains:
One construction worker is accused of logging 12-hour shifts seven days a week for an entire year, an improbable schedule that earned him $600,000. And two senior tradesmen making $42 an hour to swing hammers were instead selling coffee and snacks full-time to laborers on break.
These and other abuses by union workers building the massive Hudson Yards complex were alleged in a lawsuit filed last week by the megaproject’s developer, a partnership led by The Related Cos. The suit asserts the schemes inflated costs by $100 million over the past five years at the nation’s largest private development—a $20 billion, 18-million-square-foot undertaking.
But the case is not about recouping lost money so much as it is an effort to break the grip of the most powerful labor organizer and lobbying group on the city’s unionized construction industry.
Related wants to exclude the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York from labor negotiations for the second phase of Hudson Yards, which includes millions of square feet of residential and mixed-use space over the western section of the rail yards as well as a soaring, 3-million-square-foot office tower at West 33rd Street and 10th Avenue.
Led by its imposing president, Gary LaBarbera, the trades council has responded with a smear campaign against Related that is nasty even by labor-dispute standards. LaBarbera, a close ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has called the developer “greedy” and a “union buster” at union rallies and has described Hudson Yards as a “prison.”
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