Tishman and SL Green sue construction workers group

Suit alleges the group has illegally harassed and intimated employees at 100 Park Avenue
By David Jones | December 16, 2011 12:49PM

[Updated at 3:25 p.m. with comment from Tishman Construction] Tishman Construction and SL Green Realty have filed a $2 million lawsuit against United Hispanic Construction Workers, alleging the group has illegally harassed and intimated employees during demonstrations at Tishman’s 100 Park Avenue offices.

According to the suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Dec. 9, the Bronx-based union has been picketing outside of the building, which is owned by SL Green, since Oct. 1, alleging that Tishman has failed to hire women and minority contractors at various sites around the city.

Tishman and SL Green that vans with up to 25 picketers have illegally parked in front of the offices and picketers have yelled at workers, while storing baseball bats inside the vehicles. About 2,500 people work at the site, according to the complaint.

The suit follows a September indictment against the group by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for allegedly extorting builders at 15 different job sites in Manhattan and the Bronx over a 17-year-period 

“The picketers’ conduct is intentional and unreasonable,” lawyers for Tishman and SL Green allege in court documents. “The object of this unlawful activity is, upon information and belief, to disrupt local business activities and to embarrass and annoy Tishman in a desperate attempt to get Tishman to recognize UHCW for the purpose of hiring its members at construction projects that Tishman manages.”

Protestors deny the allegations, alleging that Tishman has hired few minority and female workers at various sites around the city, including a new emergency response center near the Hutchinson River Parkway in the Bronx.

“Tishman Construction works in the neighborhoods that we live in and doesn’t employ the people from the neighborhood,” David Rodriguez, president of UHCW, told The Real Deal.

A source familiar with the case said Tishman has faced pressure from various groups claiming that it failed to hire from African-American or Latino communities, but Tishman often does not control the hiring practices of various contractors.

“These type of people show every so often and try to get [Tishman] to hire people on job sites,” the source told The Real Deal.

A spokesperson for Tishman said: “We sought a temporary restraining order and damages in State court against the UHC after the NLRB determined that the UHC was not a labor organization and therefore the [National Labor Relations Board] did not have jurisdiction over the UHC. We were successful in obtaining the TRO and will continue to seek legal redress against the UHC.”

SL Green, in court documents, said it has received numerous complaints from tenants who feel threatened by the pickets and some tenants have been forced to relocate meetings across the street from the building.

The suit seeks compensatory damages of at least $1 million and punitive damages of at least $1 million. The injunction request seeks to ban any protests within 500 feet of the building, ban any presence of bats within one mile of the building and stop what the plaintiffs claim are defamatory allegations from being made to tenants in the building.
A court hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.

The Manhattan DA’s office declined to comment, citing the policy of not commenting on an ongoing case. SL Green officials declined to comment.