UPDATED, Oct. 8 2020, 11:05 a.m.: If picketers insist on shouting expletives at SL Green CEO Marc Holliday as he heads into his office each morning, the least they can do — without facing legal consequences — is maintain a distance of six feet and wear a face mask.
That’s according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleging that Local 79, a construction and building laborers’ union, has flouted coronavirus safety protocols outside the Graybar Building at 420 Lexington Avenue.
The lawsuit alleges that picketers’ lack of face masks and unrestrained use of “saliva-spewing whistles” to draw attention “contravenes CDC guidance” and risks spreading Covid-19 to building guards and the public.
SL Green also claims it has submitted video evidence of “saliva projectiles” emanating from picketers’ whistles. SL Green is seeking a temporary restraining order, and has asked the court for more than $1 million in compensatory damages and more than $1 million in punitive damages.
In a statement, SL Green condemned Local 79’s “reckless behavior,” and said “it is dangerous and counterproductive as the city welcomes people back to work.”
Local 79 did not immediately return a request for comment.
Local 79 is protesting the hiring of non-union workers at 15 Beekman Street, where SL Green is developing a 215,000-square-foot dormitory for Pace University.
While the city’s largest office landlord hired union builders to construct its new headquarters at the gargantuan One Vanderbilt, labor leaders say the developer is forgoing organized workers on the lower Manhattan project because it’s small enough to escape media attention.
The union has also kept an inflatable Scabby the Rat outside of 420 Lexington Avenue each day since early September, the complaint says. Local 79 has shared images of the rat on its Twitter account in protest against non-union hiring at 15 Beekman.
UPDATE: This story was amended to add a statement from SL Green.