More than 100 unionized construction workers, labor brass and members of community activist groups rallied with 10 workers who claimed unsafe and abusive conditions led them to walk off the job at affordable housing projects—projects receiving city subsidies under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing plan.
The rally included Iron Workers and District Council of Painters members as well as liberal minority groups like New York Communities for Change, and kicked off outside the Bronx County Courthouse before marching to two nearby city-subsidized building sites employing the controversial subcontractor U.S. Crane and Rigging. The demonstration marked the latest development in an ongoing conflict between the organized building trades and Mr. de Blasio over the mayor’s claims that requiring union wages and benefits would make many below-market housing projects financially unfeasible.
“De Blasio has turned his back on the working people, that’s the way we see it,” Eddie Jorge, an organizer for the Iron Workers union, told the Observer—arguing that more subsidized projects under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg used union labor than under the current administration.
The workers, most of them not fluent in English, claimed to have worked on several U.S Crane and Rigging jobs on affordable residential projects around the city. Those who spoke with the Observer described round-the-clock shifts without breaks for food or rest, insults from supervisors, insufficient safety equipment, not being fully compensated for hours worked and threats that the company would respond to complaints with termination or suspension.