Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Daily News: arena conversion workers seek to de-certify union, complain about part-time status, say MSG pay is better

The comparison between the Barclays Center and Cablevision's Madison Square Garden--already more complicated than Public Advocate Bill de Blasio thinks--just got a little more complicated as the Daily News reports, 120 Barclays Center workers plan vote to stop paying dues to their union, SEIU 32BJ, the first step in expected move to de-certify.

The Barclays Center has 120 workers--all part-time--whose job it is to convert the arena from a basketball court to concert hall to other functions. They get only $14/hour and, according to the Daily News, must work some four years before they can get health benefits.

By contrast, Madison Square Garden employes six to 15 full-time carpenters--not sure why this number is so vague--and 20 to 40 part-timers. The full-timers earn $46/hour. It's not clear what the part-timers earn. But the difference is enough to raise hackles. The Daily News reports:
As a result, the workers plan to vote Wednesday to stop paying dues to their union, SEIU 32BJ. That’s the first step in an expected move to de-certify.
“We feel we’ve been misrepresented by them,” said construction worker Micah Wheeler, 40.
While the workers say they want to join the New York City District Council of Carpenters, which represents the MSG workers,  a 32BJ spokeswoman says "we are confident these issues will be resolved” and a Forest City spokesman says "conversion jobs are by their very nature part-time” and they "do not get involved in internal union elections.”

No labor testimony at hearing

Crain's Insider reported:
On Wednesday evening, Empire State Development, the state's economic development agency, is holding a court-ordered hearing to take comments on its environmental impact study for Phase 2 of the Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards development.
The New York City Building Trades Council, the building trades' umbrella labor group, was expected to offer supportive testimony for the Brooklyn project. But its president, Gary LaBarbera, wrote in an email to his council's executive board Wednesday morning that those plans were off. It was apparently because of a simmering dispute between his group, the building workers union 32BJ, and Forest City Ratner.
"There remains a labor dispute involving the New York City District Council of Carpenters and representation of employees in the trades at the Barclays Center," wrote Mr. LaBarbera in the email, which was forwarded to The Insider. "A link to an article in the Daily News that describes the issue is provided below. Under these circumstances, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York will not be testifying at this evening's public hearing on the Atlantic Yards SEIS."
Note that the hearing is on the scope for a study, not the results of the study. So labor testimony may not be crucial.

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