I'm not going to lie: I sorta' love it when someone jams a thorn in Bruce Ratner's ass, especially when it's from folks who once backed him up. On Tuesday morning, unemployed construction workers announced a lawsuit against Brooklyn's favorite developer (or "The RAT," as one commenter from the Brooklyn Paper called him) for promised jobs and wages that they never received.
According to a press release, the lawsuit claims that Ratner's development group offered something called a "Community Benefits Agreement" (CBA). This promised that people from the community would be hired to work on the Atlantic Yards project. It is implied that Ratner did this to cool down immediate criticism of the project, and to gain the support of local politicians.
The plaintiff, Kathleen Noriega, had this to say about the initial plan for employment on the Atlantic Yards project:
We believed them when they said that this was a path to union membership and union jobs. They even told us that they had seen the union books that were reserved for us. They told us that we could rely on their promises, because the CBA would guarantee that they keep their word.
Instead, this is what happened:
Instead, the participants were employed for two months in the construction of a house in Staten Island—work for which they received no wages or other compensation. They were expected to perform heavy labor, including demolition, removal of debris, cement work, sheet rock and tile. They received little or no training or supervision, and divided the work amongst themselves so that each was doing work that he or she already knew how to do. As a result, they learned very little that they did not already know. Despite BUILD’s failure to deliver the training opportunities it promised, participants continued to labor at the site because they were told they would not receive union cards if they did not.
At one time, Brucey said that construction of the Atlantic yards would provide over 1,500 jobs, which prompted construction workers to support Ratner in his bid to develop the project. With only about 700 workers on the site, those still waiting for jobs are pissed with false promises. And why the shortage of jobs? The 17,000 seat rust brown wicker monstrosity of an arena is the only structure being built at the moment. The larger sun-swallowing monolith tower project is on hold.
According to the Brooklyn Paper, no one from Ratner's camp was not available for comment, but Councilwoman Latitia James said she sympathizes with the workers. "They were led to believe they would get a job at the Atlantic Yards," she said.
Here's the allegation grand total:
Violations of the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State Labor Law, as well as fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment from the plaintiffs’ unpaid labor.
And all for what? So the Nets can come over here and suck?