Another Lawsuit Surround NYC Hudson Yards
A group of unions recently added to a batch of lawsuits in New York City surrounding development firm Related and its Hudson Yards project.
The latest lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court, alleges that the owner of New York Concrete, John Russo, created an “alter-ego” firm named New Leaf to perform construction work, with the goal of allowing Related to skirt paying union wages and benefits.
The unions charge that the scheme was hatched after Related asked the unions to perform work at 50 Hudson for reduced pay, which the unions declined.
The lawsuit lays out that New York Concrete and New Leaf have nearly identical management and customers, and that the listed owner of New Leaf is Eleonara Hroncich, who has a resume as a retail clothing store manager.
"And it is preposterous to believe that Related would enter into a multimillion dollar concrete construction contract with a company led by an individual of her background and lack of experience in concrete construction," the suit says.
"We cannot accept the actions of certain developers and contractors to cheat construction workers by using low wage and no benefit jobs to do concrete construction," said Terrence Moore, business manager of Metal Lathers Local 46, one of the people leading a larger charge against Related.
"If left unchallenged these practices by law-breaking contractors and their backers threaten the economic health of the city, and sacrifice quality work and safe construction practices in the pursuit of greater profits."
While neither Russo nor a spokesperson from either New York Concrete or New Leaf have responded to the allegations, Related did release a statement through spokesperson Joanna Rose: "Union carpenters are currently working on 50 Hudson Yards as a part of New Leaf and this frivolous lawsuit is yet another attempt by Terry Moore, Business Manager of Local 46, to use bullying tactics to try and dictate who gets to have these good paying construction jobs and to deflect attention from his failure to reform corrupt practices and outdated work rules.”
Last year a different company, Navillus Contracting, was ordered to pay $76 million after it was found guilty of colluding with Related on a similar scheme on an Upper East Side project.
Groups continue to skirmish outside of the courtroom, too, with picket lines surrounding the Hudson Yards site—and other Related projects—over how the developer is handling union labor agreements.
On the flip side, though, Related filed a suit in February against the Building Construction Trades Council and Gary LaBarbera, BCTC president of Greater New York, claiming that they had unions violated agreements on purpose to cost the developer money.
There are also complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, charging unlawful surveillance, interrogation and threats against union workers.