The (mostly?) reformed Carpenters union now offers a program involving lower-wage workers; Atlantic Yards was a first example
"Between 1982 and 2013, five of the organization’s top leaders were removed or resigned for crimes ranging from bribery to embezzlement," she wrote, noting that until 2011, the union’s court-appointed "monitor had found it had strong ties to the mob."
New leadership and fairer procedures have improved things, as the monitor's contract ends March 31, "and it seems likely that his role will be reduced."
Maybe not. As the Daily News's Greg B. Smith reported 2/22/18, Top NYC labor leader suddenly resigns due to unspecified allegations probed by union monitor
Steve McInnis, president of the District Council of Carpenters, was asked to step down following allegations brought to the union's court-appointed monitor, Glen McGorty.It was not an allegation of labor corruption, though.
The charges were referred to the monitor Dec. 18 and after a review McGorty recommended that McInnis should resign "due to an infraction of personnel policy."
The District Council, which represents 23,000 union members from locals across metro New York, refused Thursday to disclose the nature of the "infraction."
Negotiating a deal
In the Real Deal, Brenzel pointed out that the Carpenters have been willing to negotiate with developers that otherwise might work with lower-priced nonunion contractors, a practice that can lead to conflict with other unions:
Three years ago, the carpenters’ union started diversifying the skill level of its laborers, encouraging its members to start pairing two less-skilled, “provisional” journeymen — at $57.57 per hour — for every two skilled journeyman — at $93 per hour on the job (that number includes benefits). The idea is to shave the bottom line without cutting pay for individual workers.And that involved Atlantic Yards
Saving money on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park labor
Indeed, a Summer 2015 article (bottom) from the union, headlined THE DISTRICT COUNCIL AND FOREST CITY RATNER: MAKING DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN AFFORDABLE, suggests, without clarifying affordability levels, that Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park was a win-win:
It’s therefore refreshing to work with Forest City Ratner, a developer with a history of Union labor, a history of building affordable housing, and a future that enjoins the two without making any excuses. “He’s always built Union,” says District Council President Stephen McInnis. “We had to preserve that relationship during a very difficult time where contractors were walking away, but there are still companies out there who are committed to building entirely Union."That said, given Forest City's promise to build union, it would've been politically impossible, even as the developer has a reputation for renegotiating wages. From the article:
A difficult thing to consider for the District Council has been the deteriorating state of Union market share, but the amount of downtown Brooklyn that Forest City is looking to do is a big step in the right direction. “It’s an 8 year project, to the tune of about $3.4 billion, so we locked it all in,” says McInnis. The fact that Forest City is willing to do it all Union, and to really push affordable housing percentages up is very important.Now that Greenland USA is fully in the driver's seat at Greenland Forest City Partners, the District Council will probably want to double-check the contract language. And it's way more than an eight-year project from 2015 (ending in 2023), but more like a 15-year project, as of now. with 2028 a better target date.
“We’re hoping that this can act as a model to help local politicians to understand that the Union can provide the living wage, the hiring from the community, that we’re satisfying all those needs,” said Area Standards Representative Carlisle Paul in the article. That's very much unclear, given the significant share of middle-income below-market housing, and the ownership change.
Give and take
The article recalls the significant public presence--um, raucous cheerleading--by the union during the approval process:
When Forest City Ratner needed help pushing their projects through, “we put in a lot of time and a lot of people, lots of Members doing picket duty at these rallies,” to try and help Forest City achieve their goals, notes McInnis. Another thing that is working for both sides is the Provisional Carpenter Program.And now lower wages:
“The Provisional program wasn’t around at the time, but there was always an understanding that the Unions would provide economic incentive to help Forest City realize its goals,” says Bluhm. Now that the District Council has its Provisional program up and running, Forest City was one of the first companies to take on provisional workers at its sites. There are currently two sites with partial provisional work, while the plan is to incorporate it more and more as the future sites begin construction.The article cites work at the modular factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which, unmentioned, was paid significantly less than skilled labor. Note: there's no mention of the Carpenters' criticism of Forest City when trying to organize the workers who convert the arena to different uses.