“Recently, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a landmark $1.5 million sexual harassment settlement with Trade Off, my former employer. In the real-estate industry, Trade Off is known as a body shop – a provider of cheap, nonunion Black and Brown construction laborers to big developers like the Related Companies.
I was one of the 18 primarily Black women survivors of sexual abuse or assault at Trade Off job sites who were involved in the Attorney General James’ settlement.
While working at Hudson Yards, a Related project, I was subjected to constant harassment from Trade Off foremen. I was regularly bombarded with sexual solicitations and profanities. But other Black women I worked with went through even more horrific experiences. They were told to perform sex acts for pay and overtime compensation, and assaulted by male co-workers.
Trade Off failed to address repeated complaints, and instead protected sexual abusers.
I know many Black women and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers who struggle to re-enter our economy and society while working in exploitative nonunion construction jobs like the one I had at Hudson Yards. These dangerous jobs barely provide enough money for survival. And the intentional exploitation of mostly Black and Brown bodies had led to rampant sexual abuse.
Body shop workers are often in desperate need of work after getting released from jail. They must maintain employment as a condition of their parole. They face the real threat of re-imprisonment if parole officers discover they are out of work. Complaining about job conditions, sexual harassment and other mistreatment can cost these workers their freedom. ”
Read the Full Op-Ed by Intern Organizer Tierra Williams at City Limits: https://citylimits.org/2020/07/31/opinion-how-ny-can-stop-the-exploitation-of-construction-workers-like-me/