Go to the Web sites for these new high-rises that the Condo Mayor has seeded and nurtured in his two terms. Press the buttons and watch these glorious projects magically sprout and soar like sunflowers in the summer sun.
Yet those of us on the outside looking in could probably forgive them the pieces of sky they steal. We'll put up with the way they cram the cityscape shared by all. What is unforgivable is the refusal to provide the laborers who erect these new palaces a living wage and a safe workplace.
High-Cost Condos, Low-Cost Labor—and Threats of Violence to Union Organizers
[Donald] Capoccia rose as a housing developer as he donated thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Mayor Giuliani, Governor Pataki, and President Bush. He recently told the newsletter The Real Deal that he launched his career by using a truck full of day laborers hired from a street corner. Capoccia found no time last week to speak to the Voice, but his operating methods don't appear to have fundamentally changed.
To construct his tower and its 240 condos—prices: $300,000 to $1 million–plus—Capoccia has opted to use nonunion labor. This alone would be understandable if wages were close to par. But according to Omar Lopez, an organizer for Ironworkers Local 361, where members make $38 an hour plus benefits and pension, workers at the site report that they are receiving from $12 to $25 an hour—with zero benefits. "He's got them working 12-hour days, six days a week," said Lopez. "Then, when they look in their pay envelopes, they're short a lot of hours. When they ask what happened, they're told: 'You'll get it next time.' "
The labor unions are starting to see the writing on the wall...