Labor dispute at 5Pointz escalates

Labor dispute at 5Pointz escalates
By Bill Parry

Union leaders protesting developer Jerry Wolkoff’s use of non-union workers at his Long Island City construction site were so incensed by a comment from him in a TimesLedger article Wednesday night that they added three more giant inflatable rats along Jackson Avenue Thursday morning.

“We saw where he said ‘What? They only brought one rat? That’s insulting’ and this is our response,” said Peter Corrigan, a representative with High Rise Concrete Local 212.

Corrigan said the four “Scabby the Rats” would help raise the community’s awareness of what Wolkoff is doing at the site after he reneged on a promise to use 100 percent union workers as one of the conditions of receiving a special zoning permit, or variance, to build his two 5Pointz towers “five times bigger.”

“He lied to the City Council and he lied to the community when he said he’d use union trades people from the community to build those towers,” Corrigan said. Wolkoff maintains he never signed any agreement to use union workers because it would have increased the cost of the project by $30 million to $40 million.

Of the workers currently on-site, Wolkoff said, “Some are union and some are not” and Corrigan said that was true.

“When he said he had some union workers down, there he was right,” Corrigan said. “There are some who have turned their backs on the people that taught them the trade so they could make some cash, but there are no signatory contractors on that job.”

Other trade unions have taken notice and were preparing to join the protests, sources said, including the powerful 32BJ.

“If they join, they join,” Wolkoff said. “What’s the difference?”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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