Related says it was duped into paying union “coffee boys” $42 an hour

Lawsuit comes as tension between developer and unions mounts

Steve Ross and 50 Hudson Yards
Steve Ross and 50 Hudson Yards

Buying coffee in the city can be expensive, but Related Companies says it was tricked into paying union workers $42 per hour to fetch cups o’ joe for workers at Hudson Yards.

Related claims in a lawsuit that the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York inflated construction costs by more than $100 million at the megaproject, the New York Post reported. The bills were bumped up, in part, by having two higher-ranking union members of the Concrete Workers District Council serve as coffee boys, roles that are usually filled by the junior-most members, according to a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court. One of the coffee boys was “the 55-year-old brother of a high-ranking union official,” according to the lawsuit.

Though the coffee boys were paid $42.48 an hour plus $27.39 worth of benefits, the workers had to pay for the coffee themselves (so the wages didn’t even cover the coffee), according to the Post.

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The lawsuit, which is filed against the BCTC, accuses president Gary LaBarbera of “condoning, if not actively participating in, various corrupt practices” at Hudson Yards and encouraging some unions to halt work at the site.

Various unions have held protests across the street from 50 Hudson Yards every week to condemn Related’s use of open shop labor on the remainder of the development. The BCTC called for solidarity among the unions, asking that the groups withdraw from working on Hudson Yards unless Related switched course and hired all union labor. The District Council of Carpenters has continued to work on 50 Hudson Yards.

Related is seeking $75 million in damages for the claim that the BCTC has encouraged unions to leave the project and at least $200,000 in damages from LaBarbera for allegedly defaming the company. [NYP] — Kathryn Brenzel