Saturday, June 21, 2008

From the Carpenters Union, a video of the "Brooklyn Day" rally

The Brooklyn Carpenters Union, Local 926, has produced a video with excerpts from the "Brooklyn Day" rally on June 5. I suggested the rally showed speakers embattled and a not-too-enthusiastic audience, but you can check it out yourself. Among the speakers: Sal Zarzana, president Local 926, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and radio host Curtis Sliwa. Note the criticism of local elected officials who've criticized the project.

Let me point out that 15,000 construction jobs is actually 1500 jobs over ten years, or 15,000 job-years. (More likely the project would stretch over decades, thus employing fewer people at one time.) Also note that there's mention of how "Brooklyn" needs the project, but no mention of developer Forest City Ratner.



Union interests

There's nothing wrong with the unions pursuing their interests, and Forest City Ratner, whether for reasons political and/or to ensure quality construction, has committed to union labor (though not for demolition).

One difference to remember, though, is that labor unions have been a part of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) in Los Angeles, while in Brooklyn, the CBA was "negotiated" with hand-picked groups rather than a full spectrum of the community affected. Thus labor, not part of the AY CBA, did not have to balance its interests with the concerns, for example, of environmental groups.

The battle on video

Interestingly enough, the "related videos" appearing on YouTube all relate to criticism of and reform of the project. Perhaps, as the Atlantic Yards battle continues, we'll see a proliferation of videos.

A spokesman for the union confirmed that this was a union production, without the involvement of Forest City Ratner.

1 comment:

  1. I keep wondering why Ratner was ever able to enlist union support. (I invite anyone to explain it.) The unions would clearly be better off if they hadn’t supported him because then there would be more development further along-

    The problem is that Ratner’s goal is clearly the kind of unprincipled development that will serve him ahead of serving others (among other things his goals do not go very far in terms of serving union goals. In fact, they seem to work against them). I have frequently described Ratner as the boy with his hand in the cookie jar who is trying to get withdraw such a huge handful of cookies at one time that he cannot get his hand or even one of them out. - Ratner, is hanging on the idea of huge density, street and avenue closings, eminent domain abuse to acquire property unnecessary for his development, destruction of worthwhile old buildings, and inordinate subsidy for his arena. And he wants to get all this on a no-bid basis.

    If development of the Atlantic Yards/Vanderbilt Yards area were proceeding in a principled fashion there would be a project endorsed by the community that is much further along. A project bid out and build by multiple developers working concurrently would accelerate development and the delivery of jobs into the current near-term. It would also be a better project.

    (For more on what principled development would look like see: “Effective Action Needed From Brooklyn Speaks, BHA, etc. - MDDWhite | Mon, 03/17/2008 - 9:10am” http://www.brooklynspeaks.net/node/17#comment-1826)

    Right now the unions are losing valuable political capital as people witness their alignment with a big-business robber Barron’s greed. (When unions are on the side of popular projects they gain political capital, when they side with unpopular ones like this they lose it.) Furthermore, the union’s support for so much density at these locations or for the piling of all the city and state subsidies onto Ratner as a single developer does not create more construction: it redirects resources from other projects that would be more stimulating to the economy (other housing developments and for instance the extension of the 7th Avenue subway line) and results in less construction because the funds will not be leveraged as well Ratner’s hands.

    Michael D. D. White
    Noticing New York

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