By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City officials and workers' advocates kicked off three weeks of action at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Tuesday, demanding safer working conditions and better training at real estate development sites.
Two construction workers have died in the past month and several were injured at construction sites in New York City lacking state-approved training and apprenticeship programs, according to a coalition made up of Build Up NYC, the Center for Popular Democracy, the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, and Public Citizen.
They also targeted the Kushner Companies, developing the Watchtower properties in DUMBO, for refusing to come to terms with advocates' demands.
“Responsible development begins with jobs," said LaBarbera. "Starwood has not used responsible contractors or subcontractors on its Pier 1 development in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Kushner Companies, the developer of the Watchtower properties have not made a commitment to use responsible contractors for all of the construction, operations, maintenance or security work for their big project.”
At a Starwood construction project in Manhattan, Stella Tower going up at 435 W. 50 St., two workers were injured in the past two months, La Barbera said.
"The developers have not made any committment to create good jobs for Brooklyn residents with these projects," Public Advocate James said. "Brooklyn needs good jobs, real affordable housing, and a strong midddle class. Starwood and Kushner have benefited -- it's now time that Brooklyn residents benefit as well."
At the rally, the Center for Popular Democracy handed out copies of a report, “Developing Progress: Ensuring that public resources contribute to New York equity, resilience and dynamic democracy.”
The report focuses on the development projects at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where organizers want investors to review Starwood Capital Group’s performance in light of accusations that Starwood has partnered on the project with a general contractor that has "a history of dangerous practices, illegal behavior and faulty construction."
The Center wants the city to institute safety and pay policies into its upcoming Request for Proposals for Pier 6, and recommends that penalties for violations be raised.
The group plans several events, including a vigil for workers on Thursday, April 24, at 6 p.m, at Walker Tower, 212 West 18 Street in Manhattan.