JLL discriminates against non-union labor, lawsuit alleges

A longtime tenant says the CRE giant forced it to pay extra for union labor

JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich and 125 South Wacker Drive (Credit: JLL and Google Maps)
JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich and 125 South Wacker Drive (Credit: JLL and Google Maps)

JLL engaged in an illegal conspiracy with labor unions to prevent non-union contractors from being hired to work inside its buildings, a longtime tenant alleged in a federal lawsuit.

Attorneys for office management company Wacker Drive Executive Suites, which worked out of the JLL-managed tower at 125 South Wacker Drive from 2005-2017, said a “hot cargo agreement” between JLL and labor unions violated the National Labor Relations Act by forcing out non-union labor against the tenant’s wishes, according to Crain’s.

The company is asking a U.S. District Court to award damages equivalent to the costs it could have saved by hiring non-union workers during the 12 years the company was a tenant. The legal complaint estimates union shops are at least 20 percent more expensive than their non-organized counterparts.

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A ruling in the tenant’s favor could chip away at a longstanding tendency by Chicago office landlords to squeeze out non-union labor to prevent union leaders from calling for work stoppages or public shaming campaigns.

JLL manages 25 Downtown office buildings totaling 17.2 million square feet of work space. The company expanded earlier this month by acquiring the Toronto-based Northwest Atlantic retail brokerage. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin


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