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Count Me In

Unions Rally Against Open Shop at Hudson Yards

Thousands of non-union hired to build 50 Hudson Yard and reshape the West Side of Manhattan

Kris LaGrange's picture
May 09, 2018

On Tuesday, thousands of New York City Building and Construction Trades rallied at Union Square in New York City. The rally was being held to protest the use of non-union labor on the huge Hudson Yards project.

The 50 Hudson Yards project is a massive development that will re-shape the west side of Manhattan. The project, which is being funded by Miami Dolphins Owner Steve Ross who is also the chairman of the non-union employer "Related," which is using unskilled labor for many of the jobs on the project. Over the last few months, union members have been holding smaller rallies in front of the site, pressuring the developers to go union.

"What's beautiful about this movement is that it had very organic roots. The term 'Count Me In' is now trending in labor communications and you see #countmein in many rank and file posts on social networks." - Kris LaGrange

The rally on Tuesday featured Building Trades leaders as well as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Trades leaders got up and spoke about the importance of presenting a unified front against developers using non-union labor. One even got up wearing a Dolphins jersey with the number 50 on it. Instead of a name on the back, it said Count Me In.

The rally was part of labor’s larger Count Me In campaign that has united the Building Trades over the past few months against the use of non-union labor. Much of their attention has been directed at Related. In that time, the fight between the Building Trades and Related has escalated with the company filing lawsuits against the trades and their President Gary LaBarbera in an attempt to get the protests to stop.

While Cuomo wasn’t as fired up as some of the members, he did provide a full-throated endorsement of their work. “You know how to build like no people on this globe,” Cuomo said. “No one builds with the skills and the ability of organized labor. If you want quality construction, if you want it done right, you want union labor.” He went on to say that if he is elected in November, “there will never be a state project that isn’t built with union labor.” Cuomo is facing a primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, who has decided to mimic the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) talking points and blame the Building Trades for cost overruns at the MTA.

“Across the Country, working men and women are in a fight. We are facing bullies and have said enough,” said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson. “One of the biggest bullies of them all, on the West Side, is Related. They have no respect for the hard work of the men and women in the Building Trades that spent every day building the beautiful site.”

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