This "Little Piggy" Won't Get Away !
By Bill Hohlfeld
Friday, August 06, 2010
In our industry, it’s always been a fact that nobody likes a rat. These days, after watching the number of foreclosures skyrocket while big banks get bailouts and Wall Street feeds at the trough, it turns out, nobody likes a pig either. So Local 46 has seen to it that the rest of New York finds out what we’ve known for a long time. Rats are rats because they’re pigs!
Under the Local 46 spotlight right now, is Robert Piazza of Equity Residential, a company which not only owns and operates luxury buildings in Manhattan, but is beginning to develop them as well. Take, for instance, Mr. Piazza’s project currently under way at 500 West 23rd Street. “The Pig” has made an appearance there while Local 46 members distributed informational leaflets detailing the many ways in which unorganized construction workers are exploited.
A tireless chap, “The Pig” (always full of hot air) has also made a recent cameo at 130 Watts Street in Lower Manhattan. There, he chomped on his cigar and flaunted his waistcoat pocket full of greenbacks in front of Mr. Piazza’a well appointed home. Local 46 followed the pig there and went about the business of raising some very serious questions about wage rates and safety conditions on Equity Residential projects.
A difficult fellow to keep up with, “The Pig” was most recently spotted on the corner of West 69th Street and Riverside Boulevard, which just happens to be across the street from some of Equity’s corporate offices and holdings that they operate. While he puffed away on his stogie and took in the sights, Local 46 members, hot on our fat friend’s trail, handed out questionnaires to local residents. It made them aware of the three story garage that collapsed this past July at an Equity Residential property in New Jersey, and asked them if they’ve seen any unsafe conditions in their buildings. It made residents aware of Equity’s recent settlement with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office for over a quarter of a million dollars due to charges of exorbitant application fees. Then it asked those same residents what their application fees were. West siders were interested in and sympathetic to statements, questions, and positions of the Local 46 members who were taking the time and making the effort to get the truth out there where it belongs.
Sometimes it may seem that there are few things we can rely on, but here are a couple things of which we can be sure. First, there will always be “pigs,” those who give the least and take the most. Second, as long as those “pigs” are alive and well in the New York construction industry, Local 46 will follow them, expose them for what they are, and let the vast majority of fair minded, decent people in New York make up their own mind about whether or not it is good practice to keep pigs as pets.
Incidentally, if you’d like to tell Mr. Piazza that you think workers deserve to be treated fairly, with good wages, benefits, safety conditions and the dignity and respect that all workers deserve, please feel free to telephone him at (212) 966 7509. If you, or anyone you know, should decide to make that phone call, please remember that if we wish to be treated like gentlemen and ladies, we should conduct ourselves that way, both in person and on the phone.