Hundreds of construction workers crowded New York City’s Park Avenue on Wednesday during rush hour in protest against Related Companies, developer of New York’s $20-billion Hudson Yards project. Hudson Yards is the massive real estate development on Manhattan’s West Side that has towers by DS+R, SOM, and KPF along with DS+R and Rockwell Group’s The Shed and Heatherwick Studio’s Vessel. As part of the #CountMeIn movement to fight against open shop or non-unionized workplaces, 37 people were arrested at the scene according to Crain’s New York.
The demonstration shut down the street at 345 Park Avenue, an office tower home to the headquarters of the National Football League where billionaire Miami Dolphins owner and Related chairman Stephen Ross works. Protestors called for Ross’s resignation from his new seat on the NFL’s social justice committee, which seeks to appease the professional players who oppose the league’s ban on kneeling during the national anthem. Crain’s said that the #CountMeIn protestors—who claim Ross is anti-union—wore teal T-shirts designed to mimic a Dolphins’ jersey that read “Step Down Steve” in orange lettering.
Construction workers are risking arrest today to stand up against unscrupulous, anti-union developers like @RelatedCos who place workers in unsafe conditions and deny them the respect they deserve on the job. #CountMeIn pic.twitter.com/K9161BzwfU
— NYC CLC (@CentralLaborNYC) August 22, 2018
The large-scale gathering is the biggest public display so far from organized labor groups in their ongoing dispute with Related, which wants to use nonunion labor for the second phase of construction at Hudson Yards. Crain’s reported the company filed a $100-million lawsuit earlier this year to undercut the efforts of the city’s strongest labor organizer, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, in negotiating new union opportunities for the construction of the upcoming towers at Hudson Yards. The real estate and construction powerhouse believes union workers abused their hours on site and caused inflation over the last five years while working on the first phase.
Crain’s wrote that Wednesday’s protests were seen by many as a personal attack on Ross and that he’s discriminating against laborers by condoning racism, sexism, and union-busting. Targeting Ross’s new position on the NFL’s social justice committee is an avenue for the union groups to bring greater awareness to this ongoing fight.