Bowing to public pressure, Manhattan Community Board 10 has decided to reschedule a planned job recruitment offering residents construction jobs. The public outrage stems from the fact that this recruitment specifically sites that the jobs are "Non-Union".
After the above flyer was posted on the CB10 Facebook Page, negative public sentiment soon followed. On the post, members of the public voiced their concern with statements like:
“CB10 should be promoting pathways to careers through UNION APPRENTICESHIP, rather than underpaid temporary positions like this. “
“Does the Community Board know that these jobs especially for the woman are not a pathway to jobs in the middle class. The women on non-union jobs will most likely be flaggers and will not be able to learn a trade and thus garner a good paying job and career and have healthcare and security for the future!!”
Yesterday, emails were sent out to the recruitment participants stating:
“PLEASE NOTE: Tomorrow’s information session regarding the 600 West 125th Street construction project has been postponed.”
With public support for unions at an all time high, it's no surprise that even during a pandemic with record unemployment, the public understands the difference between a dead-end job and a career opportunity.
This development is part of an ongoing battle between Columbia University and Organized Labor. Columbia University is currently constructing new staff and student residences south of 125th St and has decided to abandon the framework from an existing Community Benefits Agreement for north of 125th St. It ensured construction workers would receive a fair wage and the same benefits Columbia Staff receive.
Instead, Columbia has ignored the achievements of this agreement and decided to utilize non-union subcontractors to save money. However, that comes with a community cost. The savings often comes from the pockets of the workers building the project as well as community members when the non-union workers are shuttled in from areas up to 50 miles away in some instances, therefore eliminating a local economic benefit from construction. Previous development following the CBA resulted in good wages, benefits, and a sizeable portion of the construction workers lived in northern Manhattan. Now Columbia want's to undo all the progress.
Interviews from workers who were demolishing the old structures at 600 West 125th Street (on the south side) has revealed workers are lucky to make minimum wage. One worker who did not want to share his name informed us he was making under minimum wage until he "got his papers". Then they gave him a raise to $15 per hour with no benefits at all.