Union reps criticize Ratner's bombshell about modular construction; Markowitz issues statement of support, left with contradiction
Here are a few quotes:
“We understood that there would be a certain number of jobs generated by this project that would in turn support the local economy. Clearly farming out modular housing does not do any of those things,” said Richard Weiss, a spokesman for Construction & General Building Laborers’ Local 79. “The union supports projects based on one criteria only: are there jobs for our members in this project? If that’s not the case, then we’re not going to support it.”Markowitz tries to thread the needle
...“It would be disappointing, very disappointing,” said Edward Walsh, president of the New York State District Council of Iron Workers, which works on the site of the $4.9 billion, 16-tower mega project at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. “There are a lot less jobs for iron workers if this is built prefab.”
...“We have obvious concerns about the safety and quality of modular construction for larger buildings as well as its impact on estimates for job creation, wages and benefits that have been central to the economic justification for projects advancing,” said a spokesperson for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater NY via E-mail.
Meanwhile, the project's biggest cheerleader, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, tried to finesse the issue. As the New York Times reported today:
But Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president and a longtime supporter, attributed Atlantic Yards’s current problems to a devastating recession and the opposition’s lawsuits.How exactly would Atlantic Yards deliver the "much needed jobs," in the quantity and at the pay levels expected?
“Despite the economic realities we face today,” Mr. Markowitz said in a statement, “I have every confidence that Atlantic Yards will deliver what was promised, including affordable housing, much needed jobs and, of course, the new Barclays Arena for the Brooklyn Nets.”
All indications are that there would be fewer jobs, at lesser pay. And that means the cost-benefit analyses should be recalculated.
Markowitz's past statements
Markowitz has always touted union jobs, but he's not running for re-election, so maybe he thinks he won't suffer any union backlash.
As the Brooklyn Paper reported 6/19/04 on a pro-project rally at Borough Hall:
Despite the melee, Markowitz continued with his speech. “This job will be built the right way, with 100-percent union labor,” Markowitz said to a loud round of shouts and applause.Or, as he testified at an 8/23/06 public hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
IT ALSO BEARS REPEATING THAT EVERY SQUARE FOOT OF ATLANTIC YARDS WILL BE BUILT BY 100% UNION LABOR — ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!(Markowitz's prepared remarks are produced in CAPITALS, which perhaps approximates his rhetoric.)