As unions continue to protest at 50 Hudson Yards over the use of nonunion labor, Related Companies has expanded its efforts to go open shop at its megaproject.
The developer announced Tuesday that it cut a deal with the city’s largest construction union — the New York District Council of Carpenters — to increase the number of trades working on 50 Hudson Yards and the rest of the upcoming western portion of the project. Union carpenters — specifically excavation and foundation workers — were already working on the office tower, but the latest agreement will bring superstructure concrete workers, millworkers, finish and framing carpenters, woodworkers and others onto the yet-to-be constructed western rail yards.
The deal is a blow — though an unsurprising one — to other union efforts to pressure Related into signing a project labor agreement for the second half of Hudson Yards. The developer had signed a PLA in 2013 for the first half of the 28-acre project, but hired both union and nonunion labor at 55 Hudson Yards and now 50 Hudson Yards.
Related has previously indicated that it would go open shop for the second half of the 28-acre complex, preferring to negotiate individually with each union rather than with the Building and Construction Trades Council. Earlier this year, the developer filed a lawsuit against the organization and its president, Gary LaBarbera, alleging that the union’s labor policies drove up costs at Hudson Yards by more than $100 million. The complaint also blames LaBarbera for failing to enforce the PLA.
“Related has shamelessly leveraged the carpenter’s financial interest in the Hudson Yards project to its own advantage on the labor relations front and these divisive tactics will not stand,” the spokesperson said. “Related’s agreement with the national carpenters does not give them what they need, a skilled labor force beyond carpentry that can build the project. The national leadership of the carpenters completely ignores the local resistance to Related’s underhanded and oppressive tactics.”
The developer said the deal would add “millions of man-hours for current and future members” of the District Council. Related expects this to be the first of a series of agreements with other unions at Hudson Yards and is in talks with other groups. Representatives declined to identify which unions the developer is negotiating with.
“This District Council, and the unionized construction industry as a whole, cannot remain stuck in the ways of the past while the industry evolves around us,” the union’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Geiger said in a statement. “Modernizing our approach is the only way to ensure we can put our members to work and produce the highest quality work.”