Nassau-based Trade Off has accused a construction union of conspiring to put the company out of business, in part, by rewarding current and former employees who file “frivolous” complaints against it.
The nonunion company filed a lawsuit against Local 79 this month claiming that the construction and general laborers union pressured its current and former employees to file various complaints against the company. The suit also claims that a union organizer instructed employees to create unsafe working conditions then report the issues to the press and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In exchange, according to the lawsuit, these employees were able to bypass the union’s waitlist to enroll in its apprenticeship program and become full-fledged members of Local 79. The resulting ongoing legal disputes, which have to be disclosed when Trade Off bids on work, has cost the company more than $20 million in jobs, according to the complaint. The lawsuit notes that nearly two dozen complaints were listed in its failed bid for Kushner Companies, LIVWRK, and CIM Group’s 85 Jay Street.
Tamir Williams Rosenblum, general counsel for Local 79, said the lawsuit is merely an attempt to derail the union’s ongoing cases against the company before the National Labor Relations Board. He said he’s confident Trade Off’s lawsuit will “go nowhere.”
In a series of cases before the NLRB, which were consolidated in June, the union and various employees allege that Trade Off illegally discouraged and in some cases, threatened employees who supported Local 79 and discussed work conditions at Related Companies 520 West 30th and 264 West streets.
Last year, two Trade Off employees accused male supervisors and peers of sexual harassment. In one of the complaints filed with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity, Ashley Foster alleged that Trade Off’s foreman at Related’s 55 Hudson Yards repeatedly exposed his genitals to her while they were working on the site.
The various disputes between Local 79 and Trade Off come as a larger conflict rages on at Hudson Yards. The Building and Construction Trades Council has held a series of protests against Related for its use of nonunion labor at the megadevelopment. Related and the Real Estate Board of New York have previously singled Local 79 out as instigators of the protests.