Over two dozen Local 79 members, organizers and staff from affiliates of Local 79 attended Community Board 11’s meeting on Tuesday, March 17, to hand out leaflets and raise serious concerns about the proposed rezoning and development of a property on 120 Street and First Avenue, one of many rezonings planned for East Harlem. City Council member Ben Kallos, pictured above with Local 79 Business Agent Barrie Smith, spoke to the crowd and made it clear that he was 100% behind the use of union labor for any and all redevelopment in East Harlem. Speeches given by Local 79 members and LECET staff focused on Lettire Construction, the proposed non-union contractor for the development. Lettire has been cited eight times by the Department of Housing and Preservation Development (HPD) for wage theft and is on HPD’s enhanced review list. The speakers also spoke about the success of Local 79’s apprenticeship program in training and bringing community members into the union, and contrasted it with the bogus, non-NYS Department of Labor sanctioned “Building Skills” pre-apprenticeship program that provides inadequate training. In the question-and answer session, several pointed questions were asked about HPD transparency and monitoring of contractors like Lettire.
The great turnout at this meeting was yet another demonstration that Local 79 will not rest until HPD cleans up its act and puts an immediate end to the practice of rewarding wage-thieving non-union contractors with public subsidies to build affordable housing.