Demands lawmaker withdraw from construction union lawsuit that could cost their jobs at City Point
By Stephen Witt
Several dozen African-American men on Monday held a spirited rally outside the Hanson Place office of State Assemblyman Walter Mosley demanding the lawmaker drop his name from a construction union lawsuit seeking to stop work on the massive City Point project in Downtown Brooklyn.
The mixed-use project on the former Albee Square Mall site on Fulton Street is an open shop, meaning it utilizes both union and nonunion labor. Upon completion, it will include 680,000 square feet of retail space and 680 units of housing including 125 units of affordable housing for moderate- and low-income residents.
“I 100 percent support Walter Mosley, but I also support the people at Ingersoll and Farragut that need to work,” said Ed Brown, the former Ingersoll Houses Tenants Association President and whose Team Brown Consulting firm has landed several people from those developments construction and security jobs on the City Point project with a starting pay of $20 an hour.
“Now I understand union benefits, but for younger people out there right now that have issues of paying rent and child support and are trying to stay away from drug dealing and other illegal activities, $20 an hour beats a blank,” he added.
Brown said he is confident that eventually the elected officials will come up with a plan for economic development in the local community but in the meantime they shouldn’t try to impede any work that’s out there already.
“We need to stop the bleeding right now and then we can do the surgery later,” said Brown.
The group also came with copies of a letter sent to Mosley alleging his opposition to City Point is in direct conflict with his position as a supporter of local and minority hiring.
“City Point has made an unprecedented commitment to community-based MWBE (Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises) contracting and employment. The project has achieved over 50 percent contracting and over 80 percent local and minority workforce participation. To date, over $35 million in construction contracts have been awarded to certified MWBE firms,” according to the letter.
But in a reply letter signed by Mosley and distributed by the Local 46 Ironworkers Union at the protest, Mosley said he signed on to the lawsuit because City Point developer Acadia Realty Trust is building the project on city-owned land and has a responsibility to provide good jobs with health care and other benefits.
Mosley, who records show received a $4,100 campaign contribution from Local 46 on May 29, also alleges in the letter that Acadia is not hiring any local people.
“I have repeatedly asked Acadia to name just one single person working at City Point that lives in my district, and incredibly, they can’t do it,” Mosley wrote.
But Martin (Ab) Allen, whose company PPEE Construction, 790 MacDonough Street in Bed-Stuy, currently has 38 people working on City Point from NYCHA’s Farragut, Wyckoff and Gowanus Houses, as well as residents from Brownsville, Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy and Bushwick, said he’s given a letter to Mosley with the names of people from his district working on the project.
Additionally, several of the people on the picket line were from the local district.
“We’re dealing with hard-to-employ people. We’re trying to stop young brothers from going to prison,” said Allen. “I don’t understand Walter. He’s come to our office about getting some of these people jobs and now he’s talking about unions. I gave him a list of people I put to work from the district. Tell him to give me a list of the people he has put to work.”