Peace prevails: SL Green, Local 79 settle dispute over protests

Local 79 to deflate Scabby at 420 Lexington Avenue, while SL Green will scrap federal lawsuit

SL Green CEO Marc Holiday and 420 Lexington Avenue with Scabby the Rat (Getty; Google; SL Green)
SL Green CEO Marc Holiday and 420 Lexington Avenue with Scabby the Rat (Getty; Google; SL Green)

Shrill whistling, verbal shaming and a giant inflatable rat are now a thing of the past at SL Green’s Midtown headquarters.

The day before its quarterly earnings call with investors, the developer agreed to a settlement with labor union Local 79, following more than a month of contentious protests which resulted in both state and federal lawsuits.

“After a productive meeting today, Local 79 has agreed to cease its protest regarding construction at 126 Nassau,” a joint statement from SL Green and Local 79 said.

In exchange, SL Green withdrew its federal lawsuit in which it accused the union of potentially spreading Covid and called its actions “terroristic”.

The dispute revolved around one of SL Green’s properties at 15 Beekman Street, where it will build a 215,000-square-foot dormitory for Pace University. The developer hired a non-union demolition company to perform work at the site.

Local 79 responded with protests at SL Green’s headquarters at 420 Lexington Avenue, including keeping an inflatable Scabby the Rat outside the building each day since early September, according to the company’s earlier complaint.

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Earlier on Tuesday, SL Green had filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan to stop the protests, Crain’s reported. But by the end of the day, the parties had agreed to settle the dispute.

As for whether additional union labor would now be used over the course of the Financial District project, neither party would comment beyond a prepared statement.

“SL Green is a strong supporter of union labor and we appreciate the opportunity to sit down with Local 79 … and the opportunity to strengthen our relationship and work together on future projects,” said Edward V. Piccinich, chief operating officer of SL Green.

“We recognize and appreciate the leadership of Marc Holliday and SL Green in driving economic development in New York that creates good jobs during this difficult time for the city,” said Robert Bonanza, business manager of the Mason Tenders District Council, a labor organization that represents Local 79, among other workers.

“At times like this we need to work together to keep New York moving,” Bonanza added.