Citing worker exploitation, unions and community advocates are pressuring the city to stop work at Acadia Realty Trust’s City Point megaproject, the New York Daily News reported.
Workers at the 1.8 million-square-foot residential and commercial development in Downtown Brooklyn at DeKalb and Flatbush Avenues are being paid $15 an hour, advocates say, which adds up to $22,500 per year, under the city’s poverty line. “We know that construction workers are being paid poverty wages at City Point and they are not getting any benefits,” Terry Moore of Metallic Ironworkers Local 46, told the Daily News.
The groups’ lawyer Thomas Kennedy penned a letter to Deputy Mayor Robert Steel on March 4 in which he dubbed the project an “attack” on Brooklyn’s middle class.
After regular union protests against Acadia’s use of nonunion workers for the first phase of the project, Acadia recently announced that it would continue to hire at least some nonunion workers for the second phase of the project, which is expected to create roughly 3,780 jobs.
Bloomberg Adminstration spokeswoman Julie Wood called City Point “a linchpin for revitalization in downtown Brooklyn,” but did not directly address charges of poverty-level wages, and instead focused on the project’s job creation aspect. “The project has already created over 180 construction jobs from both union and non-union contractors, and of those employees, 82% were minorities and 41% were local residents, more than doubling target goals,” Wood said.
The city owns the site which it has leased to Acadia for 99 years and also provided more than $20 million in taxpayer-funded bonds.
Acadia has responded to these allegations by dismissing them as “an attempt to coerce us to change our practices [that is] unwarranted based on our conduct and beliefs,” according to an October 2012 letter from Acadia’s general counsel Robert Masters seen by the Daily News. [NYDN] —Hiten Samtani