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November 16, 2011

“I was robbed,” claims plaintiff in lawsuit against BUILD and FCR; defendants deny promising jobs and union cards, setting up contest over credibility; claims over unpaid wages in "sham" training program may be easier to prove

Atlantic Yards Report

To City Council Member Letitia James, the leading political opponent of Atlantic Yards, the federal lawsuit filed yesterday by seven would-be Atlantic Yards workers, who claim they were promised construction jobs and union cards after finishing a highly competitive training program, confirms that the project “was the greatest bait and switch in the history of Brooklyn.”

For the workers-- some of whom quit jobs or declined job offers in expectation of post-training work and union membership--it was simply a chance for justice, after going through the 15-week program sponsored by Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), where they learned little and were put to work, without pay, on a mostly unsupervised contracting job.

“We were repeatedly reassured on numerous occasions that all we had to do is to complete the program and we would obtain union books and employment,” said Kathleen Noreiga, 58, an electrician (in video below). She made a point of saying she had rallied for the project with BUILD, which, while offering job training and assistance, has regularly brought Atlantic Yards supporters to public hearings and events. (BUILD CEO James Caldwell has regularly praised Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner as "like an angel sent from God.")

Seven of the 36 workers who went through the program, which concluded last December, joined the suit, announced at a press conference yesterday afternoon. (Videos by Jonathan Barkey)

“I was robbed,” asserted Maurice Griffin (in video below), who quit his non-union carpentry job to do the 15-week, Forest City Ratner-funded program that began last August.

“They guaranteed me a union card, They said it’s not a question of whether we have it, but whether you complete the program. And I completed it. I came every time, early. I did my work. I’m here to let everybody know I’m not going to stand for this.” Griffin later joined a union on his own.

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Posted by eric at November 16, 2011 12:30 PM