Massive City Point development’s use of nonunion workers irks critics

January 22, 2013 08:30AM

The mammoth City Point development in downtown Brooklyn has become a battleground over the use of nonunion workers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The 1.8 million-square-foot project is being built on city-owned land and receives affordable housing subsidies. Washington Square Partners, which along with Acadia Realty Trust is developing the 670,000-square-foot retail space, told the Journal that construction would involve at least some nonunion workers in order to cut costs, expedite work and use more minority, local and female workers. Developers added that a portion of the 700-unit apartment project would also hire nonunion workers.

“We’re beginning to really have a good group of highly qualified competitive minority contractors,” Paul Travis of Washington Square Partners told the Journal. “If you looked at a job like this 10 years ago, the world has really changed.”

The first phase of the project, which saw regular protests from the unions, employed 180 nonunion workers, of which 41 percent were local and 82 percent were minorities. The second phase of the project will see the construction of a retail space that will include a Century 21 and a market hall with food vendors, as well as 565 units of market-rate housing and 125 units of affordable housing.

The second phase is expected to create roughly 3,780 jobs, but the developers’ plans to hire nonunion workers have sparked outrage among the unions, which see the move as a breach of responsibility.

“I don’t know why the city, the [Economic Development Corp.] and Acadia, how they think that that’s fair after they received all the taxpayer money that they have,” said Terry Moore, of Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46.

City Point’s decision continues a recent trend that has seen major developers such as Equity Residential, Toll Brothers and the El Ad Group hire nonunion workers for major construction projects. [WSJ] —Hiten Samtani