The Real Deal New York

Nonunion employees accuse union members of harassment

Lawsuit claims members made threatening phone calls
March 08, 2017 05:55PM

Nonunion and union protestors both outside of City Hall (credit: Associated Builders & Contractors and Building & Construction Trades Council)

Four nonunion construction employees accused members of a union competitor, Local 79, in a lawsuit of repeatedly harassing and intimidating them.

Justin Hagedorn, Earl Williams, Jose Bonilla and Jason Abadie, who work for the contracting firm Tradeoff, filed a lawsuit against the union members, alleging that they made threatening phone calls, put a 12-foot-tall inflatable rat in front of one of their homes and even surrounded them at an event, Crain’s reported.

The complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court, describes a few different instances of intimidation. Bonilla alleges that he received an ominous phone call from one of the union members.

“If I went against the wrong team I would just kiss my kids goodbye and say they never gonna see daddy again,” the suit claims the caller told Bonilla.

At an event for a developer on Feb. 15, about 200 union members surrounded Hagedorn and Abadie, shouted insults, threw lit cigarettes and spit for 20 or 30 minutes until the police and broke up the crowd, the lawsuit claims.

Richard Weiss, a spokesperson for Local 79, said the group attended a rally on Feb. 15 and denied that any of the members attacked or harassed the men.

The lawsuit comes at a tense time between union and nonunion shops in the city. A series of proposed construction safety laws fueled the debate over whether union labor is inherently safer than its nonunion counterpart. [Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel