September 24, 2012

Operating engineers again protesting outside the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

They brought about two dozen people for an informational protest--not a picket line--for the Sept. 21 Barclays Center ribbon-cutting, but this morning brought what seemed to be a few dozen more. About 20 jobs are at stake.


NoLandGrab: Where's the giant inflatable Ratner?

Photo: AYInfoNyc

Posted by eric at 3:23 PM

September 21, 2012

Operating engineers protest arena ribbon-cutting, saying Ratner affiliate has failed to negotiate

Atlantic Yards Report

About two dozen members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 30, gathered this morning outside the Barclays Center, for an informational protest, not asking anyone to honor a picket line.

Union business rep Bill Lynn said members work at other sports facilities and entertainment venues and manage machinery such as refrigeration equipment, but the arena has refused to negotiate with the union. About 20 jobs are at stake.

"They're looking to try and hire workers and not talk to the union that would represent them," Lynn said, adding that he didn't know whether the workers would be non-union or represented by a different union.

"What they're looking to do is offer substandard wages and benefits," he posited, suggesting that he didn't even think that Bruce Ratner knew what an offshoot of his company was doing. The union is headquartered in Richmond Hill, Queens, but the majority of the people he brought, said Lynn, were from Brooklyn.


Photo: Tracy Collins

Posted by eric at 9:38 PM

September 14, 2012

Markowitz on the "good jobs" at the Barclays Center: "if you don't have a job, you can't pooh-pooh it"

Atlantic Yards Report

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, speaking at a Brooklyn Public Library "Power Up Breakfast" 9/12/12, offered continuing rhetoric about the jobs at the Barclays Center and a new--though questionable--defense.

"Sports brings us together as a community and as a nation," Markowitz said. "It's the social thread that binds us together and gives us something we can collectively take pride in."

Sure, people may be interested in a team, and enjoy watching it. But should we be taking pride in a privately-run sports entertainment corporation?

Markowitz on jobs

"Traditionally, sports stimulate our economy and create jobs. Thanks to the magnificent Barclays Center.... roughly 2000 New Yorkers will have good jobs, full and part-time jobs, that will bring in money and create jobs for many local businesses as well, surrounding the area," Markowitz declared.

Whether they're good jobs is very much in doubt, since part-time workers without other income would likely qualify for food stamps, as I've written.

But Markowitz was undeterred. "Now, those who oppose the arena pooh-pooh jobs, but you know what--if you don't have a job, you can't pooh-pooh it," he said.


NoLandGrab: Oh, yeah?! Just watch us. Pooh, pooh; pooh, pooh.

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

August 29, 2012

Lawsuit seeking unpaid wages for BUILD trainees could expand, as plaintiffs' lawyers get OK to contact other 29 trainees

Atlantic Yards Report

The number of potential plaintiffs could grow in the lawsuit against Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) and others for failure to pay trainees for roughly two months of work they did helping build a house on Staten Island.

Seven of the 36 people in a coveted Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program filed suit last November in federal charging not only violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act but also that they were promised union cards and careers.

The suit not only targets BUILD but Forest City Ratner, which supported the organization, a Community Benefits Agreement signatory, as well as individual executives, along with the company that did the training.

The lawsuit, though the charges were narrowed, survived a motion to dismiss. Now the plaintiffs can try to add some of the other 29 people from the program, but only for the claim of unpaid wages, not damages for the promised union cards.


Posted by eric at 2:09 PM

August 6, 2012

Were there really 1,079 construction workers on site in June? Maybe at one time, but the daily average was under 800

Atlantic Yards Report

On 6/29/12, I questioned a Patch report that, "Right now on the Atlantic Yards construction site, according to FCRC, they have 1,079 union employees in total...."

I tried to find out what that meant in FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs, given that the total number of workers has been overstated by 25%.

Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco gave a brief response to my query, but avoided specifics: "That publication asked for the most recent number of workers on site... They change weekly and based on the work that is being done."

Since then, I discovered a more accurate number. The official website indicates that, for the week of June 24, there was a total of 1137 construction workers, with a daily average of 797 workers.

As I've suggested, the Independent Compliance Monitor that Forest City Ratner refused to hire could provide more accurate information.


Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

Securitas Security Services USA Employee Review

“Come to Yankee stadium and get treated like a prisoner.”

by Former Security Officer in Bronx, NY

Wonder if the Barclays Center jobs will be as rewarding as those at Yankee Stadium, as outlined in this employee review...

Pros – the interaction with guests is rewarding
It's a nice postion to have on a resume.

Cons – Management is all ex correctional officers and treat you like their prisoners. The work environment suffers as a result, everyone is worried about being fired everyday and are constantly worried and angry. All policies are written as a reason to fire someone and the managers will not assist you or give you any advice they will only threaten to give you warnings. Due to all the firings the place is a revolving door of employees and who you work with will change weekly.

The hours fluctuate daily and it's impossible to know when you'll be able to leave everyday. If the game does get rained out you will not be payed after the cancellation. Management will call you in for special shifts with only a days notice and you cannot say no. Even though the job is part time you will not be able to work any other job due to the hours fluctuating. You are not allowed to miss shifts for any reason and even with a doctors note or proof of a death in the family you may be fired.

It is a union shop but besides paying your dues you will not hear anything from them. You are not given any contact information for them and it's clear they don't care about the working conditions.



Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

July 24, 2012

The little economic engine that could? Once Atlantic Yards was called an "economic engine." Now it's the arena.

Atlantic Yards Report

The Summer 2012 issue of Brooklyn!!, Borough President Marty Markowitz's promotional publication, offers an enthusiastic coverage of the new arena, with a curious claim:

Along with pumping up Brooklyn’s reputation as the place for sporting and entertainment events, Barclays Center is its own economic engine, providing 2,000 full and part-time jobs, plus a shot in the arm to the ancillary businesses around the arena.

Forest City Ratner says those 2,000 jobs add up to 1,240 FTE (full-time equivalent), but I think that's very doubtful.

Either way, it's hard to call the arena "its own economic engine," given the significant subsidies and tax breaks, and the fact that the New York City Independent Budget Office calls it a net loss to the city.

After all, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, at least before he delivered a report for his client, Forest City Ratner, told the 2/16/04, Courier-Life, "One would not say, 'Let's move the Nets to Brooklyn to help the local economy.'"

Now one would, at least if the one is Markowitz.


Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

July 13, 2012

From the District Service Cabinet meeting: "Day Two” task force; report on hiring; construction timing; plans for parking for TV trucks

Atlantic Yards Report

The big news at yesterday’s Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting concerned the city’s preliminary rejection of residential permit parking and the still unresolved plans for the first residential tower, B2.

But several other issues came up at the Borough Hall meeting, including a “Day Two” task force, a progress report on hiring for part-time jobs, plans for parking to serve TV trucks, and updates on ongoing issues.

Unresolved issues

For example a final Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan is due in early August, said Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development, the agency overseeing the project. “We received a number of great comments” and are “trying to figure out the best way to tweak the plan.” Comments and responses are should be posted with the final plan.

Also, a plan to re-order police precinct boundaries--the arena likely will be policed by a supplement to the 78th Precinct (nearby) or 88th Precinct--is in the works. A letter from the Police Commissioner has been sent to the mayor, who then must get it approved by the City Council within 60 days, which is a close deadline, given that the arena opens on Sept. 28.

The State Liquor Authority’s final hearing on the Barclays Center liquor license is still not scheduled; a report from the administrative law judge who heard testimony is not expected until July 25. (That’s also a hearing day; I’m not sure if the report could be delivered on the day of the hearing.)


Posted by eric at 12:04 PM

July 12, 2012

Do Forest City Ratner's part-time arena job numbers add up? If a maximum of 800 people work an event, it seems doubtful

Atlantic Yards Report

We're going to hear about arena jobs at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting this morning, but I don't think Forest City Ratner's numbers add up.

They've estimated that some 2006 employees would be hired at the arena, 1901 of them part-time, 105 full-time.

And they say that works out to 1,240 FTE (full-time equivalent) positions.

How get 1,135 FTE positions?

Subtract the 105 full-time jobs from 1,240 and that means that the part-time jobs add up to 1,135 FTE positions. That's the equivalent of 1,135 people working 40 hours a week.

But Bruce Ratner has already said that the maximum number of workers at any one time is likely to be about 800, while smaller events could have only 500 workers.

If the arena was being used 365 days a year, the figure of 1,135 FTE jobs might make sense, because there might be more than 40 hours weekly of 800 people per shift.

But there are supposed to be 225 events per year. That means even less than a full-time year-round schedule, or an event for each of 250 work days.


NoLandGrab: Imagine that! Forest City numbers that don't add up.

Posted by eric at 1:05 PM

June 29, 2012

Are there 1,079 (FT?) workers at the Atlantic Yards site? If so, that's a huge jump (and sign of crunch time?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Patch reported yesterday, "Right now on the Atlantic Yards construction site, according to FCRC, they have 1,079 union employees in total...."

We don't know what that means in terms of FTE jobs. Generally, the number has been overstated by about 25%.

Still, it's a significant increase in workers, given that, in January 2012, Forest City construction chief Bob Sanna said about 666 workers was near peak. "I think we are approaching the peak, between all three parts of the project," he said, noting that perhaps 25 more workers would be added.

Does the increase relate to the 24/7 work now going at the site? That seems likely, and an indication of crunch time to get the project finished. Still, arena neighbors tell me they haven't seen signs of a major influx of workers.


Posted by eric at 10:23 AM

June 28, 2012

Lots of people looking for part-time arena jobs, but they were never the justification for the subsidies and tax breaks

Atlantic Yards Report

There are 1901 projected-part time jobs at the Barclays Center, and "nearly 20,000" (according to NY 1) or 26,000 (as per New York Times) applicants, a sign, according to the Times, that Amid Gloom, Job Hopes Rest Heavily on New Arena.

Well, that's news, especially given the desperate economic times, with half of the city's black residents unemployed. In Residents Line Up For Chance At Barclays Center Jobs, NY 1 quoted a resident calling it "a good opportunity."

It's surely better than no job, or even certain low-wage jobs, given that it's expected to be unionized. And Forest City Ratner, as the Times pointed out, has fulfilled its pledge by recruiting in Brooklyn, at churches and housing projects.

But such part-time jobs were never the justification for Atlantic Yards, and the attendant subsidies and tax breaks. No wonder elected officials like Council Member Letitia James and state Senator Velmanette Montgomery scoffed at them, during a rally earlier this month. The jobs should be those "that sustain families, not sell hot dogs," said James.


Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

Amid Gloom, Job Hopes Rest Heavily on New Arena

The New York Times
by Joseph Berger

Atiya Cheatham woke up two hours earlier than usual, murmured her daily prayers, brushed and curled her long ebony hair and put on her best interview outfit, a cream-colored, three-quarter-sleeved blouse and khaki slacks.

Then she headed from her home in the Wyckoff Gardens housing project in Brooklyn to join some of the 26,000 young men and women hoping to land one of the 2,000 jobs as ushers, ticket sellers and food and drink vendors that will become available at the Barclays Center arena near Downtown Brooklyn that is to open in September. The arena job is one of 10 she has applied for since May.

“It is frustrating,” Ms. Cheatham, a 22-year-old graduate of a community college in upstate New York, said of her job search, as she waited inside a gymnasium at St. Francis College to find out whether she had survived the first round of prescreening. “They say you need a college degree, but now that I have a degree it’s still hard,” she said. “But I have faith something will come my way.”

Given the number of job seekers who will be streaming through over the next few weeks, the arena job fair was strikingly orderly and fast-paced, and the atmosphere was one of anxious but hopeful longing. Still, the sheer number seeking these generally part-time and low-paying (though union-scale) jobs was a powerful illustration of just how bleak the city’s job picture is, especially for black New Yorkers.


NoLandGrab: What about Bruce Ratner's promised 10,000 office jobs?

Related coverage...

NY1, Residents Line Up For Chance At Barclays Center Jobs

Most say they'll take any job. But working at the arena is what attracts them.

"I love basketball and I love my borough and I'm looking forward to work as a usher, ticket person," said East New York resident Donte Brown.

Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

Workers' Lawsuit Against Forest City Ratner Moves Forward

Developer and nonprofit ally accused of failing to deliver on promised construction jobs.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz

A Federal Court ruled last week that Brooklyn construction workers accusing Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner of failing to provide promised employment opportunities can proceed with their lawsuit.

In a 19-page decision, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge John Gleeson stated that seven Brooklyn construction workers who participated in a job training program created by FCRC and Brooklyn United for Innovative Development (BUILD) could sue for unpaid wages and a failure to provide union status.

The ruling is the latest legal wrinkle for FCRC, which this week lost its battle to avoid an entirely new environmental review based on an updated 25-year construction timetable.

Gleeson's decision is also likely to provide even more fodder for critics of BUILD, a nonprofit that has reportedly secured only 15 jobs as of December 2011 at Atlantic Yards out of hundreds of job-training program participants.


Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

June 25, 2012

Nets-arena job rush

NY Post
by Rich Calder

There’s a full-court press to work at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Operators of the Brooklyn Nets’ future home said yesterday they’ve already gotten 18,812 applications for 1,900 part-time and 100 full-time jobs that will become available in time for the center’s Sept. 28 opening.

Mayor Bloomberg praised arena developer Forest City Ratner and the city’s Small Business Services department for going “over and beyond” to attract Brooklyn residents — especially those at public-housing projects — as promised through job fairs and church visits.

Of the applicants, 15,688 — or 88 percent — reside in Brooklyn, and 8,929 — or 47 percent — live in public housing.

Arena operators, which began taking applications three weeks ago, will begin preliminary interviews Monday.


Posted by eric at 10:57 AM

June 20, 2012

Judge says lawsuit filed over "sham" training program can proceed, with key claims remaining against Forest City and BUILD; other claims dismissed

Atlantic Yards Report

In a preliminary victory in the case filed by by seven (of 36) participants in a pre-apprenticeship training program (PATP) promised as part of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), a federal judge this week agreed not to dismiss potentially costly claims that Forest City Ratner is responsible for failure to pay unpaid wages to the trainees for their entire training program, which plaintiffs' attorneys call a "sham."

Federal Judge John Gleeson did dismiss several aspects of the case filed against Forest City, executives Bruce Ratner and Jane Marshall, BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), and BUILD CEO James Caldwell, but he rejected a motion to dismiss key claims, including the most contested claim during a court argument last month: whether Forest City and BUILD constituted "joint employers."

The argument concerned the plaintiffs' claim that, by signing the CBA, which promised the PATP, and funding and directing BUILD, that Forest City Ratner was responsible for the program. One plaintiff, recounting how he was promised a union card and a union job, said "I was robbed," when the case was announced last November.

An attorney for Forest City, BUILD, and their individual officers argued that the facts don't support "the economic reality test" as established in case law. But attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that this case was unusual, and Gleeson agreed, in his 19-page decision (below):

However, I cannot conclude at the pleadings stage that it was unreasonable, as a matter of law, for the Plaintiffs to rely on promises of union membership and jobs made to a small number of PATP participants by a major real estate enterprise that would employ tens of thousands of union workers.

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.

The legal process of discovery had already begun, and will continue, as plaintiffs' attorneys, who include Matthew Brinckerhoff, the chief lawyer on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, probe the relationship between Forest City and BUILD.

Plaintiffs' attorney Nicole Salk, who said Gleeson "really understood the main arguments," estimated that it would take at least six months before the next phase, which could be a motion for summary judgment, or a trial. Settlements in such cases are possible as well, though the plaintiffs this week just got more leverage.


NoLandGrab: Let's cut to the chase. The relationship between Forest CIty Ratner and BUILD is as follows: Forest City Ratner = BUILD, and BUILD = Forest City Ratner.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Federal Lawsuit Against Bruce Ratner and His Partnter B.U.I.L.D Will Move Forward

Time for Bruce Ratner to book another big act for his (and Mikhail Prokhorov's) arena, lest the press start paying attention to this federal lawsuit he is on the wrong end of....

NLG: Is Bad Company touring? That'd be fitting.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

June 19, 2012

Federal Court: Lawsuit against Forest City Ratner and BUILD to Move Forward

Press Release via South Brooklyn Legal Services

Bruce Ratner suddenly finds himself on a prolonged courtroom losing streak.

A federal judge in Brooklyn has decided that a group of Brooklyn residents may move forward on their lawsuit against Forest City Ratner and related entities based on unpaid wages and broken promises. In a 19-page decision, Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York held that the plaintiffs, participants in a sham job training program created by the Atlantic Yards developers and Brooklyn United for Innovative Development (BUILD), may proceed on their central claims against the defendants.

The decision affirms that the plaintiffs properly stated claims for unpaid wages under federal and state labor laws against all the defendants, who plaintiffs allege jointly operated the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program (PATP). Judge Gleeson determined that although the trainees were not employees in the ordinary sense, they may still be entitled to be paid for their work. The judge held that all the defendants, including Bruce Ratner, may be liable for unpaid wages.

The court also found that the defendants may have engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of the New York General Business Law. The court based this determination on the allegations that the defendants recruited a large number of potential trainees with misleading promises of union membership and jobs. According to the decision, this constitutes a “sufficient public impact” to show a broad effect on consumers at large.

While some claims were dismissed as to certain defendants, the judge affirmed all the key aspects of the legal basis for the plaintiffs’ lawsuit. The defendants argued that the developers could not be held to promises to deliver union jobs. However, Judge Gleeson stated: “I cannot conclude . . . that it was unreasonable, as a matter of law, for the Plaintiffs to rely on promises of union membership and jobs made to a small number of PATP participants by a major real estate enterprise that would employ tens of thousands of union workers.”

For more information, please contact South Brooklyn Legal Services’ Nicole Salk at 718-237-5544 or Sarah Dranoff at 718-237-5578.

Posted by eric at 4:41 PM

June 15, 2012

Forest City: 9,300 people inquire about Barclays Center jobs

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's Insider today:

ARENA JOBS: In just two weeks, more than 9,300 people have sought jobs at the Barclays Center, the arena opening Sept. 28 in Brooklyn. They were prompted by 21,000 postcards mailed to Housing Authority residents by developer Forest City Ratner, which also visited local churches. About 2,000 jobs are available, though barely 100 are full-time positions. Top priority in hiring is being given to Housing Authority applicants, followed by those from the three nearest community districts. The city Department of Small Business Services will help screen applicants.

So, does this mean the arena's a savior, or that Brooklyn has a lot of unemployed people? (Similarly, Forest City promoted the number of people interested in affordable housing as a sign of the validity of Atlantic Yards.)

Note that very few, if any, of the Housing Authority residents are either eligible for, or seeking, the higher-skilled full-time jobs. There are some 1900 part-time jobs, averaging, according to my calculations, 23.6 hours per week.


Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

June 7, 2012

Pre-Registration For Barclays Center Jobs Begins

Public housing residents, as well as those living in neighborhoods surrounding Atlantic Yards, are to be given preference.

Fort Greene–Clinton Hill Patch
by Paul Leonard

Barclays Center unveiled a new jobs website this week amidst continuing controversy over the number—and quality—of available employment opportunities at the site.

A representative of arena developer Forest City Ratner said that jobseekers would be able to pre-register for positions at in a hiring process expected to last two months.

Once screened, candidates will be asked back for an in-person interview at job fairs to be held in July and August. The first training sessions for new employees will take place in August, according to FCRC.

Despite an announcement made with great fanfare in April that 2,000 jobs would be created at Barclays Center, FCRC execs later walked back that figure, saying that 1,240 full-time equivalent jobs would be made available—meaning that most positions at the mega-arena would be part-time only.

Graduates of a questionably effective job training program, Brooklyn United For Innovative Local Development (BUILD), will also be given priority, [FCRC VP for external affairs Ashley] Cotton wrote.


Posted by eric at 6:50 PM

Community Board 3 Meets

A monthly update of the activities of Community Board 3 representing Bedford-Stuyvesant

Bed-Stuy Patch
by C. Zawadi Morris

And sometimes they can't be bothered to show up.

The Economic Development Committee planned to give a brief overview of the hiring plan for the Barclay Center to be presented by Forest City Ratner. However the representative from their office did not show. The committee is trying to re-schedule for the next CB3 meeting.


Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

June 6, 2012

Barclays Center announces registration for job recruitment events later this month, for "arena that is sure to make the neighborhood the pride of Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center is hiring for "a landmark state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena that is sure to make the neighborhood the pride of Brooklyn."

Note that the arena is in a neighborhood, Prospect Heights, that's bracing for the impact of 19,000 arena-goers, and that it's the confluence of neighborhoods with some mixed feelings.

If "[o]ver 2,000 jobs are available in areas including Retail, Food and Concession, Security and Ticket Sales," as indicated in the screenshot at bottom, well, they're also counting full-time jobs, since the previous estimate was 1901 part-time and 105 full-time.

Priority is given to residents of Brooklyn's NYCHA housing developments or Brooklyn Community Boards 2, 3, 6 or 8, though it's not quite clear how "first in line for consideration during the recruitment process" will play out.


Posted by eric at 10:18 AM

May 29, 2012

Got a gun and a car? The Barclays Center wants you!

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Gersh Kuntzman

This just in from the company that will run the Barclays Center: The 19,000-seat arena is getting so close to hosting events that it is reaching out to subcontractors to actually do the work — including protecting celebrities as they come to the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

AEG Worldwide has posted on its Web site that it needs local firms to provide manpower and equipment in several key arena areas, including heavy equipment and handling, facilities presentation and production room operations, landscaping and snow removal services, structural engineering and rigging, sound and lighting, electrical contracting and, this is our favorite, “armed car service.”

Interested bidders must apply by June 8.


Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

May 22, 2012

On BCAT, BUILD's Caldwell and Chamber rep talk up arena "win-win" (and a few things are missing)

Atlantic Yards Report

Last night, on Brooklyn Independent Television's Intersect, on the BCAT TV Network, Lori Raphael, Director of External Affairs at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and James E. Caldwell, President and CEO of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), joined host Brian Vines "for a discussion about job and business opportunities for Brooklynites" as "the Atlantic Yards become the Barclays Center."

(The show appears Mondays and Thursdays at 1:30pm & 9:30pm and Wednesdays at 3 pm & 11 pm, on Time Warner 56, Cablevision 69, RCN 84, Verizon 44, and streaming: Channel 3. It also should be available on the web site as an individual episode.)

Given such a focus on opportunities, not to mention the conflation of the Vanderbilt Yard with the Atlantic Yards site, it wasn't surprising that the project was presented as a win-win, with a mild acknowledgment of people who "feel" promises haven't been kept. (Is it just a "feeling" or could it maybe be documented?)

There was no mention of the big picture questions, such as the New York City Independent Budget Office's calculation that the arena would be a net loss for city taxpayers, or, however much there may be trickle-down spending and hiring, whether the big beneficiary is developer Forest City Ratner. Or, as the rather mainstream Regional Plan Association recently suggested, it's too soon to come to a verdict.

Nor was there discussion of other charged issues, such as the failure to deliver promised affordable housing--part of the public promotion of the project--or the much-delayed arena transportation plan. It was pretty much happy talk.


Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

May 21, 2012

The Barclays Center hiring plan, incomplete statistics on hiring/contracting (vs. CBA goals), and the difference between self-reporting and an Independent Compliance Monitor

Atlantic Yards Report

I reported April 30 that, despite estimates that 150 to 200 of the promised 2000 jobs at the Barclays Center would be full-time, a more precise prediction was 105, according to a slide presentation by officials representing the arena.

Now I have the full presentation, reproduced at bottom.

What's missing: contracting

While the slides may seem to be self-explanatory, there is some information missing.

For example, Forest City Ratner counts 16.3% of contract dollars going to MBE (minority business enterprises) and 6.3% WBE (women's business enterprises).

Unmentioned: the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) on p. 18 sets goals of 20% for MBE firms and 10% for WBE firms.

Nor were Forest City's statistics not segmented into New York City or Brooklyn firms, despite CBA language regarding preference for "Community based firms."


Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

May 11, 2012

Has BUILD done more for job-seekers, or Forest City? Barclays Center jobs, like those at Atlantic Terminal mall, to be filled via city workforce center

Atlantic Yards Report

Last month, when Mayor Mike Bloomberg joined his friend and neighbor Bruce Ratner at the in-construction Barclays Center to announce a plan for 2,000 jobs at the arena--1240 FTE, or 1,901 part-time--there was an important subtext: however useful Forest City Ratner's (paid) Community Benefit Agreement job-training partner has been, a city agency is in charge of hiring.

Sure, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) has a role--along with other agencies, from NYCHA to community boards--in spreading the word to job-seekers. Indeed, BUILD has collected some 7,000 resumes, offering some version of job help. And BUILD has led unpaid customer service training programs to prepare 100 people to apply for such arena jobs.

But New York City's Workforce1 service will be responsible for hiring. And, as noted below, when the Atlantic Terminal mall opened in 2004, the same city agency did the job, without the help of BUILD.

That raises the question: has BUILD been more helpful to job-seekers, or to Forest City Ratner, for whom it has supplied regular public support?


Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

May 10, 2012

Where were promised union jobs, and wages for training program? Lawsuit by trainees against BUILD, Forest City faces key court argument tomorrow; defendants ask judge to dismiss most but not all claims

Atlantic Yards Report

Amid the Barbra Streisand hoopla, Atlantic Yards controversy persists.

The federal lawsuit filed last November against Forest City Ratner and job-training group BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) faces a crucial hearing Friday, May 11, as a federal court will hear arguments on the defendants' motions to get most but not all of the charges dismissed.

Seven (of 36) people who went through a highly-competitive pre-apprenticeship training program (PATP) enumerated in the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), sued BUILD, Forest City, and individual executives, as well as the company that BUILD found to provide unpaid training for them.

The plaintiffs, who sued on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, seek to recover not only unpaid wages but also to recover damages based on what they call broken promises that led them to participate in a "sham employment training program."

Whatever the result of the motions, some version of the case will persist. If the motions are unsuccessful, the court argument will ultimately concern damages that represent lost earnings from a union career, and paid potentially by deep-pocketed corporate defendants.

If successful, the motions will reduce the case to an argument about smaller sums that represent unpaid wages from the training program, paid by less-established defendants. Note that a motion to dismiss must treat allegations as true, but argue that, as a matter of law, they are not valid.

The hearing will be at 11:30 am in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Courtroom 6C South, Brooklyn, before Judge John Gleeson.


Posted by eric at 1:05 PM

May 2, 2012

Barclays Center to Only Offer Approximately 105 Full-Time Jobs

Forest City Ratner, AEG and Levy Restaurants representatives gave a presentation on the Barclays Center’s hiring process and available jobs to Community Board 6.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz

Your employment woes are solved, Brooklyn!

The Barclays Center will create approximately 105 full-time jobs and about 1901 part-time jobs to New York City residents, according to a Forest City Ratner representative who gave a presentation to Community Board 6 on Monday night.

The part-time jobs will be event driven, so the number of employees working at any given week will fluctuate.

David Anderson, AEG's vice president of Event and Guest Services, said that the biggest number of part-timers that will work at any event, like a playoff game, will be 800. And during other regular season games or concerts that number will be less than 800.

Cotton said that employing Brooklynites will be the arena’s hiring priority.


NoLandGrab: Our friends at Forest City Ratner have just informed us that they're accepting applications for fabulous careers in arena pest-control services.

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

May 1, 2012

Atlantic Yards Workers Left Out of 'Living Wage' Bill

As the City Council meets Monday to consider the measure, one outcome is practically guaranteed.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
by Paul Leonard

The City Council prepared to vote on legislation Monday requiring some businesses receiving city benefits to lift worker pay.

However, even if enacted, the measure would not cover any of the workers on one of the city's biggest development projects receiving public subsidies: Atlantic Yards.

The "living wage" bill would mandate minimum pay of $11.50 per hour, or $10 without benefits, for scores of employers receiving public funding with gross revenues over $5 million dollars a year.

Just not for workers at Barclays Center—or any other project at Atlantic Yards.

The exact terms of the bill, released last week, exempted projects like Atlantic Yards that had already received city approval.


NoLandGrab: Word is, they're already working on a new logo for the living-wage legislation...

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

April 30, 2012

How many full-time jobs at the Barclays Center? Not 150-200, as announced four days ago, but just 105, as explained in Community Board presentation

Atlantic Yards Report

At the April 26 press conference on a promised 2000 jobs at the Barclays Center, officials said that 150-200 of the jobs would be full-time.

In fact, the New York Daily News reported that "some 90%" would be part-time, indicating approximately 200 full-time jobs, and the New York Post reported 200 full-time jobs.

Actually, according to a presentation prepared by Forest City Ratner and delivered tonight to a committee of Community Board 6, the company estimates only 105 full-time jobs, plus 1901 part-time jobs.

Even if the numbers are approximate, that's a dramatic difference.

Though some of the CB members were cordially inquisitive during the lightly attended meeting, given the board's experience with promises from Ikea, nobody brought up the discrepancy between the numbers in the presentation and the numbers mentioned last week.


Would people with criminal records be hired?

"We weigh each case separately," said AEG's David Anderson, who noted that the firm does background checks.


NoLandGrab: That question was a little off-base — the criminal records usually come while people are ON Forest City Ratner's payroll.

Posted by eric at 10:22 PM

April 28, 2012

Barclays Center Jobs Announcement a Big Win, or No Big Deal?

Bed-Stuy Patch
By Paul Leonard

At face value, an announcement Thursday that developer Forest City Ratner planned to create 2,000 jobs to be filled by public housing and local residents was good news for the borough's unemployed.

However, as the details came in, the picture got a whole lot murkier.

As Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene, pointed out in a statement, many of the jobs to be offered at the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center are part-time and in traditionally low paid employment sectors including janitorial, food service and ticket sales.

Forest City Ratner later admitted that the "full-time equivalent" number of positions pegged to Thursday's announcement was actually closer to 1,240.

That seems a far cry from the scores of well paying jobs promised before the city approved plans for Atlantic Yards redevelopment and construction on Barclays Center began.


Posted by steve at 5:31 PM

April 27, 2012

Ratner, Bloomberg provoke little skepticism about "2,000 jobs" announcement; recruitment efforts begin next week; Ratner admits more potential delay on first building

Atlantic Yards Report

The press conference yesterday regarding jobs (press release) at the Barclays Center was mostly a success for Mayor Mike Bloomberg and developer Bruce Ratner, whom the mayor referred to as "a neighbor of mine, a friend of mine."

First, many media outlets provided the understandably dramatic visuals of the structure, as shown in the first video below that I shot, and Bloomberg's endorsement of the tight seating bowl.

And most media outlets reported, with relatively little skepticism, the claim that there would be 2,000 jobs at the arena, with recruitment focused on the neighborhoods and housing projects near the site.

Also note that Ratner nudged back the goalposts for the first residential building yet again, suggesting it could start either later next year or early next year.

Press coverage

The New York Times, which had two reporters there, didn't cover the press conference (yet). The Daily News reported there would be "2,000 jobs... some 90% of them part-time," but didn't clarify--despite the reporter's tweet--that it would mean 1,240 FTE.

The New York Post focused on remarks Borough President Marty Markowitz made in response to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but did mention the 1,240 number.

(The Post in January, presumably citing information provided by Forest City Ratner, predicted 1500 full and part-time workers. When asked about those numbers yesterday, Ratner said, "I don't where you got the 1500... at any one time, we'll have at most 800 people in the arena.... on a major event.")

Metro didn't specify the number of jobs but did--unlike nearly every other press outlet--quote a statement issued later by Council Member Letitia James, which strikes me as on target, that most of the jobs "will do little to address the rising poverty in the borough."

Patch quoted the 2,000 figure as well as my pre-meeting reference to the state's projection of 1,120 FTE jobs. NY1 cited 2,000 jobs and some debate over the living wage, but didn't drill down. ABC was enthusiastic, with no skepticism. Ditto for Newsday.

The Observer focused on naming the Nets. amNY quoted skepticism from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn but not the 1,240 figure. The Village Voice cited the interaction I had with Bloomberg.

Gothamist didn't quote the FTE numbers but stressed:

Forest City Ratner is promising to "report quarterly on the number of employees and the neighborhoods that they are from." All the arena-haters noted that for future reference? Good.

Gothamist apparently doesn't know about the developer's long-delayed obligation to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor. The Epoch Times did focus on the questionable job numbers.


Posted by eric at 2:17 PM

Daily Intel: "Bloomberg Promises 2,000 Jobs at the Barclays Center, Sort of" (with video)

Atlantic Yards Report

Here's the video of the question I posed to Mayor Mike Bloomberg, which didn't get an answer from him and provoked a joke from developer Bruce Ratner.


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bloomberg Displays Ignorance & Petulance About Atlantic Yards. Bruce Ratner Makes Snide Joke

Today Mayor Bloomberg was at the Barclays/Prohorov/Ratner arena site with Bruce Ratner and Markowitz to tout 2,000 jobs coming to the arena.

Of course 2,000 jobs aren't coming to the arena, and needless to say the photo op was absent of details and substance. But when Norman Oder asked the Mayor a question about the validity of that number, the Mayor responded with mocking, petulant ignorance, and his buddy Bruce Ratner made a snide joke.

What neither did was answer the pertinent question about job figures—how could they when they come out of thin air.

@ShellySilver via Twitter, Gotta hand it to Bruce

Posted by eric at 2:04 PM

Bloomberg Promises 2,000 Jobs at the Barclays Center, Sort Of

Daily Intel []
by Norman Oder

Mayor Bloomberg was at the under-construction Barclays Center arena this morning to announce a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the future home of the Brooklyn Nets, with locals and residents of nearby housing projects given priority.

Developer Bruce Ratner, whose firm Forest City Ratner is building the Barclays Center, was enthusiastic but parsimonious with details. He said about 90 percent of the jobs will be part-time, up to 30 hours a week, with the remainder full-time. Ticket-takers and drink slingers don't work every day, and Ratner acknowledged that "at any one time, we'll have at most 800 people in the arena ... on a major event.

So, what would be the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, a not uncommon measure?

"I don't have any idea what that is," responded the famously data-driven mayor.

It was pointed out to him that the Empire State Development Corporation estimated FTE employment at 1,120.

"The state can say anything they want," responded Bloomberg testily. "I don't know."


Posted by eric at 1:54 PM

April 26, 2012

Bloomberg set to announce " a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the Barclays Center"; FTE, according to state, would be 1,120

Atlantic Yards Report

From City & State First Read's daybook:

11 a.m. – Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn.

Is that 2,000 positions or 2,000 full-time jobs? In 2005, they were proposing 400 jobs. The state's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) estimated 1,120 full-time equivalent positions.

Presumably many of the jobs are low-skilled part-time jobs, with relatively low wages and benefits that differ significantly those accompanying full-time jobs.


Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

April 17, 2012

Ratner, whose firm once claimed "400 jobs" at the arena, now promotes "2000 workers" at the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

WINS reports that Bruce "Ratner said that 2,000 people will eventually be hired as part-time and full-time workers" at the Barclays Center arena.

Now that's possible, if a lot of people are sharing part-time jobs, but the arena has never been portrayed as offering a huge number of jobs, much less high-paying ones.

Consider how, in 2005 letters--certainly orchestrated by Ratner's firm--to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Brooklyn elected officials uniformly predicted only 400 jobs at the arena--an arena that at the time was planned to be larger.


Even if Ratner is counting basketball jobs, and more retail than originally assumed, it's a huge leap from 400 jobs to 2000 workers, unless most of the latter hold very part-time jobs.


Posted by steve at 9:03 AM

April 6, 2012

How many workers at the Atlantic Yards arena/transit site? Bondholders don't get told

Atlantic Yards Report

What was it we said about "Reply Hazy - Try Again?"

The latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (and Forest City Ratner/ESDC), is supposed to tell bondholders how the project is doing.

One thing it typically explains is how many workers are at the site. Below is the excerpt from this month's report, dated 4/2/12, and based on a visit of 2/23/12 and documents made available 3/20/12.

As you can see, we don't really know the number of workers at the site (which excludes the Vanderbilt Yard/Carlton Avenue Bridge) because there are strikes through the numbers. Those were the numbers reported last month, so perhaps this new report was issued carelessly without such an update.


Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

Brooklyn Office Vacancy Rate Puts the Lie To Ratner's Jobs and Tax Revenue Promises

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Looks like those 10,000 permanent office jobs Bruce Ratner and crew kept braying about all these years are going to happen...never. Can't have office jobs without building.

Norman Oder reports on an eye-opening Real Deal article on the whopping 26.8% Class A office vacancy rate in Brooklyn and we eagerly await Dr. Zimbalist's mea culpa (which is more likely to come than the office tower Ratner has long promised)...


NoLandGrab: "More likely?" More like "as likely."

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

April 5, 2012

If Downtown Brooklyn office space has a "staggering 26.8% availability" (as per The Real Deal), what does that say about the projected Atlantic Yards office space?

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how the four Atlantic Yards office towers were a slam dunk, according to Forest City Ratner's paid consultant, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, because office space as of 2004 was supposed to be doing fine?

Well, The Real Deal reports on Brooklyn’s Class A woes: Borough’s Downtown market sees highest availability in office space in more than a decade. The article does leave out some important context:

  • that the demand for office space drove the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, which instead enabled residential towers and hotels
  • that the promised Atlantic Yards office space was crucial to the count of permanent jobs and the total tax revenue

The number of planned office towers at the AY site was cut from four to one, but that one building hasn't been developed, without an anchor tenant.

So, the article suggests that Bruce Ratner's snappy comment to Crain's New York Business in November 2009--"Can you tell me when we are going to need a new office tower?"--remains very much valid.

Perhaps the only true words Bruce has ever uttered.

As I wrote in March 2006, Zimbalist, while predicting Atlantic Yards would eventually create 1.9 million square feet of first-class office space, made no mention of a study of Downtown Brooklyn redevelopment issued a month earlier, which estimated a glut of office space.

In their June 2004 critique, Gustav Peebles and Jung Kim pointed out that Zimbalist didn't point out how so much of the then-well-occupied Class A office space in Brooklyn is at Forest City Ratner's MetroTech development, which has relied heavily on subsidies and government tenants to fill the space.


Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

Brooklyn’s Class A woes

Borough’s Downtown market sees highest availability in office space in more than a decade

The Real Deal
by Adam Pincus

The Atlantic Yards office tower(s), and its bogus 10,000 permanent jobs, coming never.

The office market in Downtown Brooklyn was once going strong with a full slate of long-term leases, and a roster of financial firms like Bear Stearns & Company, which were locating back offices there to flee expensive Manhattan rents.

But today its high 90 percent occupancy rate masks a staggering 26.8 percent availability rate — from downsizing tenants and expiring leases in its 8 million square feet of modern, Class A office buildings. That’s according to fourth-quarter 2011 figures, the most recent available from commercial firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

The growth of vacant and available space has been a long time in the making, as financial firms reduced head counts, moved staff overseas, or decamped to New Jersey.

The availability rate — measuring space vacant now or available over the next 12 months — in Downtown Brooklyn’s modern office space is among the highest in the nation.

Developer and landlord Forest City Ratner controls most of the market, with about 5.2 million square feet in six buildings. Most of those buildings are in the Metro Tech Center complex, as well as three additional buildings, including 1 Pierrepont Plaza.

Forest City has just 3 percent vacancy in its portfolio, data from CoStar Group shows. But it acknowledged that about 18 percent of the portfolio is available, either directly through Forest City or indirectly through existing companies in the form of a sublease.


NoLandGrab: There's a shocker — Forest City Ratner officially claiming a low vacancy rate, while reality begs to differ.

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

April 4, 2012

Forest City Ratner seeks MWBE contractors for housekeeping, uniforms and dry cleaning

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner seeks MWBE contractors for housekeeping, uniforms and dry cleaning (as announced via the Fort Greene Association):

Dear Neighbors,

I am writing to share with you more opportunities associated with the opening of the Barclays Center this September. We are committed to contracting with women and minority owned firms for services in the building and will share a number of Request for Proposals with you over the next few months.

MWBEs are required to be certified on a state, federal or city level. All firms interested in responding to RFPs must register with our management company AEG. Please encourage any companies you know to fill out the AEG materials.

Today we are sharing an opportunity for housekeeping, uniforms and dry cleaning. Please see all the details including directions on how to apply attached here. This information will also be posted at and

With less than six months to go until opening we look forward to continuing to share good news about our efforts. As always don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions.

Ashley C. Cotton
Vice President
External Affairs
Forest City Ratner


Posted by steve at 9:58 AM

March 10, 2012

Fraud Found in Jobs Effort; Blow to Bloomberg

The New York Times
by Michael Powell

City investigators have discovered evidence of large-scale fraud in one of the agencies leading Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature initiative to find jobs for unemployed New Yorkers.

Here's a surprise — it's not BUILD.

The Department of Investigation found that Seedco, a nonprofit organization that frequently works with the Bloomberg administration, falsely claimed to have helped at least 1,400 people — out of about 6,500 — find jobs; those people are in fact jobless or found employment on their own.

Only 1,400 phantom jobs? They deserve a medal. Bruce Ratner promised 17,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent office jobs, while delivering 607. Enervating!

Seedco “developed systematic practices to report false placements” to the city’s Department of Small Business Services, according to a report on the investigation that was released on Friday.

What, no housing and hoops?


Posted by eric at 11:24 PM

March 2, 2012

Where are the Barclay’s Center Jobs?

Construction was a washout, but hopes are high for service

The Brooklyn Ink
by Scott Eidler

In a classroom on the 10th floor of the Metro Tech Center, in downtown Brooklyn, two dozen adults are engaged in an exercise. The assignment? After hearing a list of workplace hiccups—unanswered phone calls, pushy customers, tardy co-workers—they must decide, in order of importance, how they should be handled. And quickly.

“It’s piling up now!” says the instructor, after a few of the scenarios have been read aloud.

“You have to respond to the telephone!” suggests one woman in the class.

Charles Torres sits in the back of the room, taking it all in. He likens the customer service class he’s enrolled in to a slice of “humble pie.” He used to manage the Off Track Betting center on Delancey Street in Manhattan, until 2010, when the city closed it down. Customer service wasn’t the field Torres hoped to fall into, but he’s had to swallow his pride. He thought his experience managing an O.T.B. site would qualify him for banking jobs, but so far, he’s been told otherwise. After nearly two years of struggling to find work, he’s been forced to reinvent himself, at 53.

Torres, like many among the unemployed in Brooklyn, connected with Build (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), an organization that pushes development as a job creator and to help Brooklyn residents land those jobs. Most of the students have been laid off, and they see customer service as a second act. They hope to be hired at the Barclay’s Center, the new basketball arena poised to be the cornerstone of the Atlantic Yards project when it opens in the fall.

After legislators criticized Build and the site’s developer, Forest City Ratner, for failing to hire enough Brooklyn residents for construction jobs, Build’s president and CEO, James Caldwell, says more may be hired at the arena. He also argues that Brooklyn residents will be better suited for the housing construction phase of the project than they were for the arena construction.

Though Build instructors say they can’t promise students a service job with the arena, they’re certainly showing them the way there.


Photo: Scott Eidler/The Brooklyn Ink

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

February 14, 2012

Crain's: DOB Commissioner LiMandri touting FCR's modular plan

Atlantic Yards Report

Last November New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri was endorsing modular construction, saying, "you also have to figure out how to build bigger, and better, and modular."

And, according to today's Crain's Insider [subscription required], Modular Construction’s Savings, he's still saying that, with specific reference to Atlantic Yards:

If Forest City Ratner succeeds in its effort to build modular housing for Atlantic Yards off-site, the work could probably be done more efficiently, but the greatest savings would come from wages. Off-site workers cost union builders $36 an hour versus $90 for on-site labor. Total project savings might be about 20%. Just one local firm, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, constructs housing units off-site but only for low-scale buildings, and adds the façade in the field. Forest City plans to do high-rises, including façades, in factories. Its unions’ approval is needed. City Buildings Commissioner Bob LiMandri has been touting the proposal around town. Supporters say it would reduce truck traffic, debris and noise at construction sites as well as improve work quality.

The flip side? Not only would Atlantic Yards workers earn much less (definitely), and they would be fewer in number (probably), but also the projected tax revenues generated by the project would decline.


Posted by eric at 1:04 PM

February 3, 2012

Forest City doing worse on M/WBE contracting for Atlantic Yards than previously reported: ESD says total is 15.4%, not 22.6%, because some firms aren't certified

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner maintains its perfect record of not making good on an promises!

By the state's measure, developer Forest City Ratner has a much lower M/WBE (Minority and Women's Business Enterprises) utilization figure than previously reported, which suggests it's doing less than previously assumed in reaching out to businesses that truly need a boost.

On January 31, I reported that, according to statistics released by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, the MBE awards total $91 million (about 16.3% of total purchases), while the WBE awards total $35.1 million (about 6.3% of total purchases).

Thus the combined M/WBE participation is apparently 22.6%, about three-quarters of the way toward the goal of 30% (20% MBE plus 10% WBE), as reflected in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

Revising the numbers

Well, that was true, but I've since learned that the statistics, while released by ESD, were not only prepared by Forest City Ratner--there was no indication on the document--they do not represent the ESD's own analysis of M/WBE figures.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project for ESD, explained:

ESD and the Atlantic Yards Project have a certified MWBE utilization contract goal of 20%. Firms must use “best efforts” to meet that goal. If they have not met the goal they must show that they have used their best efforts to retain MWBE firms through outreach and solicitation. ESD has calculated that Forest City has awarded 15.4% to MWBE certified firms to date. ESD does not count the MWBE firms that are not certified. If non-certified firms were included the percentage would increase.

Why wouldn't they be certified? I speculate that either 1) they are/were too fledgling to bother or 2) are too large and prosperous to qualify under the state's newly narrowed rules aimed to exclude M/WBE firms that are very large or led by businesspeople who are so wealthy as to be clearly not disadvantaged.

Whatever the reason, the discrepancy again points out the need for Forest City to not merely self-report but to hire the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the CBA.


NoLandGrab: It's official! CBA now stands for Completely Bulls**t Artifice.

Posted by eric at 1:56 PM

January 31, 2012

Workers at the AY site: 666 people, but perhaps 500 full-time jobs; record of 41% minority hiring exceeds CBA goal of 35% (but women lag)

Atlantic Yards Report

How many workers are at the Atlantic Yards site? Last week emerged two reports, with slightly different numbers, based on slightly different reporting times.

At the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, Forest City Ratner officials said there were 666 workers at the site, including the arena, transit connection, and railyard. (This number tends to exceed slightly the number reported by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee, because the latter does not examine railyard work.)

That total, I later confirmed, represents the total number of individuals employed at the site, not the average number of workers based on a five-day week, since some individuals do not work each day.

Thus the total number of full-time "jobs"--construction jobs are calculated in job-years--is probably some 25% lower, or closer to 500. (As noted below, Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the project, calculate the average number of workers as about 75% of the total of individuals working.)

This confirms that the numbers Forest City has been reporting at the cabinet meetings represent the number of individuals employed, not full-time jobs. Had Forest City Ratner hired the Independent Compliance Monitor as required by the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), we might have had clarification earlier.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Minority/women contracting numbers lag 25% behind ambitious CBA "goals" (sometimes billed as "promises"); results better than WTC, other projects

In building the Barclays Center and other Atlantic Yards construction activities, Forest City Ratner is lagging 25% behind its ambitious plan to devote devoting 20% of construction contract dollars to minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) and 10% to women-owned firms (WBEs).

According to statistics released last week (see below) by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, the MBE awards total $91 million (about 16.3% of total purchases), while the WBE awards total $35.1 million (about 6.3% of total purchases). The total, as of the end of 2011, encompasses work back to 2005.

Thus the combined M/WBE participation is 22.6%, about three-quarters of the way toward the what ESD calls the "program requirement of 30% for M/WBE," which also appears as goals--20% and 10%, respectively--in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

The Atlantic Yards web site, as noted in the screenshot at right, presents the figures as certainties.

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

January 23, 2012

Atlantic Yards Not Nearly As Brooklyn Job-Friendly As Claimed

by Garth Johnston

You guys are never going to believe this, but remember when Forest City Ratner kept telling us that its Atlantic Yards Project would bring thousands of jobs and units of affordable housing to Brooklyn? They lied! Not only are there fewer (prefab) buildings going up than initially promised, but the steadily rising stadium, now known as the Barclay's center, has been a disappointment jobs-wise, too.

None of this is actually new (remember those "interns" who sued Ratner when it reneged on a promise of jobs and a union card?) but its the response from the Ratner cake that is the icing on the camp. First off, they're all "Over 20% of all contract dollars to date have gone to [minority] firms, the highest percentage in the city"—which, fair enough—but then the company's spokesman goes on to say that litigation (*cough* Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn *cough*) and "the economy" have "impacted" the number of jobs created. So yeah, its not Forest City Ratner's fault they aren't doing what they promised they'd do—its Brooklyn's fault for complaining and holding the whole thing up.


Related coverage...

threecee via flickr, 2012 BrooklynSpeaks Atlantic Yards Governance Press Conference

Park Slope Patch, Pols Criticize Forest City Ratner's Promises at Rally

The Atlantic Yards website touts that the project would create “more than 16,000 union construction jobs plus over 8,000 permanent jobs,” but a report by Merritt & Harris said that as of November there were 645 construction workers on the job.

Posted by eric at 6:19 PM

Brooklyn Arena Criticized on Hiring

The Wall Street Journal
by Heather Haddon

As the Barclays Center arena slowly progresses in Brooklyn, elected officials are calling for the developers to make good on the affordable housing units and thousands of jobs promised to accompany the development.

Nearly two years after it broke ground, the development has created less than a thousand jobs, fewer than the 1,500 slots a year developer Bruce Ratner had promised to bring to the area, elected officials said Sunday.

"The project was presented as a field of dreams but has turned into a cemetery of broken promises," said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who was joined by fellow Brooklyn Democrats Sen. Eric Adams and Assemblyman Karim Camara during a news conference on Sunday.

About 100 of the jobs created have gone to workers from the five Brooklyn neighborhoods surrounding the $5 billion sports arena and housing complex, but they have mostly been retail positions, not well-paying ones in construction, Mr. Jeffries said.


Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Press Conference Over ‘Broken Promises’ at Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards report has an extensive post about the press conference noting that three have had “nuanced and/or supportive positions toward Atlantic Yards” until now and that their about-face likely represents the fact that two are running for office at the moment, as well as representing how many of their constituents feel about the development at this point.

Posted by eric at 1:04 PM

January 11, 2012

Cuomo Recalibrates His Casino Pitch

NY Magazine
by Chris Smith

Speaking of scammers...

Governor Andrew Cuomo just released a long and odd letter that he sent to the state’s legislative leaders arguing in favor of his proposal to build the world’s largest convention center in Queens and to expand legalized gambling. It’s full of assertions (“This investment would be one of the largest in the state’s history at no cost to the state”) and projections that should be read very skeptically, especially the gaudy job-creation estimates, which are eerily reminiscent of the hype used to sell Atlantic Yards.


NoLandGrab: Anyone feeling nostalgic for Paterson Spitzer Pataki?

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

December 15, 2011

Good Jobs First report shows states, in New York, offering subsidies for jobs without getting much in return

Atlantic Yards Report

Guess what? Most states, including New York, offer subsidies for jobs without ensuring job creations and job standards in return, according to a new report.


From Good Jobs First:

States are spending billions of dollars per year on corporate tax credits, cash grants and other economic development subsidies that often require little if any job creation and lack wage and benefit standards covering workers at subsidized companies. These are the key findings of Money for Something: Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs, a 51-state [they include the District of Columbia] “report card” study published [yesterday] by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC.

Each program is rated on a scale of 0 to 100 (with extra credit for advanced features). Nevada, North Carolina and Vermont rated the highest, with the District of Columbia, Alaska and Wyoming the lowest.

Also low was New York, tied for 43rd place.

Consider, for example, that Atlantic Yards subsidies were premised in part on the (optimistic) claims of 17,000 construction related jobs, or job-years. If Forest City Ratner builds modular, as is announced, the amount of tax revenues from construction worker salaries would certainly decline, as well as likely the number of jobs.


Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

December 7, 2011

How many jobs at the Atlantic Yards site? Ratner said 779, just weeks after consultant counted 415 (not counting the railyard)

Atlantic Yards Report

How many construction jobs are there at the Atlantic Yards site?

In mid-November, Forest City Ratner told the New York Daily News and Patch that there were 779 workers on site at the end of the previous week, November 11.

However, the most recent report on arena construction, prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee, cites only 415 workers. The report, dated 12/2/11, is based on a 10/27/11 site observation.

It states:


Posted by eric at 11:48 AM


F**ked in Park Slope

The Atlantic Yards is the GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING THE WHOLE YEAR. It's just so easy to hate the project because everyone associated with that giant wicker rat's nest sucks just as hard as Bruce Ratner does. According to LAST THURSDAY'S BROOKLYN PAPER, BROOKLYN UNITED FOR INNOVATIVE LOCAL DEVELOP (BUILD) was promised 1,500 jobs a year over the Atlantic Yards 10-year construction period. They saw only 15 jobs this year.

In the past, members of BUILD could be seen at anti-Atlantic Yards demonstrations, where they showed support for the project because of the bolster in jobs it would provide for local workers. Well guys, you all got duped because that amounted to a big, fat, nothing. As a result of the lack of promised jobs, residents and members of BUILD FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST RATNER AND EXECUTIVES AT BUILD for not delivering what they promised, including union memberships if workers attended a 15 week training program.


NoLandGrab: The total number of construction jobs promised, 1,500 a year for 10 years (later revised to 1,700 a year), weren't all promised to BUILD members; only a fraction of the jobs were expected to go to BUILD trainees. But it's safe to say that the number was much greater than 15.

Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

December 1, 2011

Despite Promises, Apprenticeship Program Produces Only 15 Jobs at Atlantic Yards

James Caldwell, president of a community organization partnered with developer Forest City Ratner, defends record of employment creation.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark and Jamie Schuh

The president of a community group being sued for not producing Atlantic Yards jobs promised after an unpaid apprenticeship program defended his organization, saying that while the construction jobs didn’t come through, his group has put more than 400 people to work.

His comments come in response to a report today in the Brooklyn Paper that BUILD, a community group created to work with Forest City Ratner to provide local workers with Atlantic Yards jobs, has secured only 15 jobs at the site so far.

Last month, seven Brooklyn construction workers filed suit against Forest City Ratner and BUILD (aka Brooklyn United for Innovated Local Development), arguing that Ratner failed to deliver on promises of union cards and jobs on the Atlantic Yards site after they completed an unpaid apprenticeship program.

But in an interview this afternoon, BUILD president James Caldwell, defended his record, saying that the 400-plus jobs he’s found in such areas as building maintenance and retail may be lower paying, but some (such as maintenance and porter positions) do have unions of their own and nearly all have the advantage of being permanent.


NoLandGrab: And with the news that the Gucci Masters equestrian event will come to the Barclays Center in 2013, BUILD is about to announce its newest job-training program. 30 highest scores get union books!

Posted by eric at 6:22 PM

Lawsuit prompts Brooklyn Paper to take tough (and partly misleading) look at BUILD and failure to deliver project jobs to supporters

Atlantic Yards Report

Now that BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) has been sued for not delivering Atlantic Yards jobs to some of the 36 selected for a highly competitive pre-apprenticeship training program, some are taking a closer look at the results delivered by one of Forest City's most vocal organizational supporters.

The Brooklyn Paper, in Out of work! Ratner ally BUILD got just 15 jobs for black Yards supporters, offers some tough--and in a couple of cases overstated--reporting, focusing on the failure to deliver promised jobs expected as a result of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) BUILD signed:

BUILD’s President James Caldwell said that the group has helped 400 people find work around town — but he admitted that only 15 of those positions were on Ratner’s Prospect Heights development, which currently consists of only the under-construction Barclays Center near the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

I reported last month that most of the 350-400 jobs were at places like Forest City Ratner's malls, though not that 15 had found work at the project. Note that the Brooklyn Paper headline overstates the issue somewhat, since, the "just 15 jobs" refers to jobs at the project, not jobs in total.

Most importantly, the article points to an issue I've reported on previously: experts on CBAs agree that groups shouldn't take money from the developers they negotiate with. BUILD never existed before Atlantic Yards was announced, and has always supported the project.


Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

Out of work! Ratner ally BUILD got just 15 jobs for black Yards supporters

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

The organization that promised to deliver jobs for black supporters of Atlantic Yards has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from developer Bruce Ratner to help train workers for the positions — but has only secured work for 15 people at the $5-billion mega-project.

The mostly black members of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development who were promised some of the 1,500 jobs per year over the project’s 10-year buildout loudly supported Atlantic Yards during the approval process, often appearing in hard hats at rallies and hearings and presenting a contrasting face to the project’s mostly white opponents.

BUILD’s President James Caldwell said that the group has helped 400 people find work around town — but he admitted that only 15 of those positions were on Ratner’s Prospect Heights development, which currently consists of only the under-construction Barclays Center near the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

Residents filed a lawsuit against Ratner and BUILD last Tuesday in federal court, claiming that executives at BUILD and Ratner’s company falsely promised them union memberships and jobs in exchange for completing a “sham” 15-week training program run by the Downtown nonprofit in 2010.

Caldwell disputed the claim, and blamed his failure to secure more Atlantic Yards jobs for local residents on the economy and lawsuits from Yards opponents.

“There would be [more jobs] had all these things not taken place,” he said. “The bottom fell out of the economy.”

But the Great Recession didn’t hurt BUILD’s bottom line: the organization’s annual operating budget increased from $191,721 in 2007 to $279,395 in 2009, according to the latest available documents from the Internal Revenue Service.


NoLandGrab: Wow, who could have predicted that? We had Bruce Ratner's word, after all.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

November 28, 2011

So, how much did unions give up to get the Barclays Center going?

Atlantic Yards Report

On Local 157 blogspot, "Where New York City District Council Carpenters Communicate, Connect and Stay Informed!" there's an intriguing comment posted in response to a reposting of Daily News columnist Denis Hamill's valentine to Forest City Ratner's Bob Sanna and the union workers building the arena.

Wrote the anonymous commenter:

How about some free tickets for the men who took the hit on the PLA's [Project Labor Agreements] to make it happen.

Time to have a Trades Night out when the season starts next year. You can go by the Certified Payroll records on file with the CM [Construction Manager] & Project Owner.

C'mon - set it up. Let's see if Ratner appreciates the effort and steps up

Forest City Ratner stopped construction of the Beekman Tower (aka 8 Spruce Street) to negotiate a PLA.

I'm not sure if Forest City simply took advantage of an existing general PLA or negotiated one specifically for the arena. But it sure seems that the developer shaved savings on labor costs.


NoLandGrab: Seeing how giving away unsold seats — of which there are likely to be plenty — won't cost Ratner a dime (and will generate otherwise-foregone concession revenue, to boot), this commenter will surely get his wish.

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

November 25, 2011

“Bruce Ratner’s latest useful idiots have no one to blame but themselves.”

Reason Hit & Run
by Damon W. Root

City Journal’s Nicole Gelinas reports on the latest lawsuit stemming from the Atlantic Yards boondoggle in Brooklyn, where the state of New York seized private property via eminent domain on behalf of a basketball stadium being built by real estate tycoon Bruce Ratner. As Gelinas notes, the seven Brooklyn residents who filed suit this month aren’t actually upset about the eminent domain abuse that occurred, they’re just mad at Ratner because he won’t let them get in on the spoils....

It’s hard to feel much sympathy for anybody who believed Ratner’s bogus promises, but at least these seven dupes have a shot at learning from their erroneous ways.


Related coverage...

Gideon's Trumpet, A Cautionary Tale in Brooklyn

A tip of our hat to Nicole Gelinas of the City Journal for her article that tells the story of seven people who according to their complaint just filed in court againt the Atlantic Yards management, bought into promises of good jobs in exchange for supporting that redevelopment project. Nicole Gelinas, The Ratner Seven, City Journal, November 18, 2011 — click here. But guess what? They allege that they were duped.

Bottom line: when redevelopment promoters promise to bake a bigger economic pie for all to share, it may just be that what they are really promising is pie in the sky.

Posted by eric at 12:50 PM

November 19, 2011

The Ratner Seven

City Journal
By Nicole Gelinas

This piece has harsh words for those who believe in promises made by Bruce Ratner.

Earlier this week, seven Brooklyn residents filed a federal lawsuit against Bruce Ratner, the developer of the Atlantic Yards basketball arena, accusing him of committing a grave injustice. The plaintiffs, however, aren’t opposed to injustice; in fact, they had hoped to benefit from it. For the wrongs that they’ve suffered, Bruce Ratner’s latest useful idiots have no one to blame but themselves.

Ratner has spent eight years using the power of New York City and New York State to injure people who don’t have the arbitrary power of the government backing them. Starting in 2003, Ratner garnered the support of Mayor Bloomberg, Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, and a succession of governors to use the power of eminent domain—plus $700 million in subsidies—to label some private Brooklyn properties “blighted,” seize them, and build his stadium and (at some point) surrounding apartment towers. Ratner gained government backing only by marshaling community support: that is, he shoveled money into new “grassroots” advocacy groups like Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD). Ratner signed a “community benefits agreement” under which BUILD chief James Caldwell would train residents—many of them low-income Brooklynites—for as many as 15,000 well-paying construction jobs at Atlantic Yards.


Now, seven job-seekers are suing, alleging that Ratner and Caldwell duped them into joining a “training” class last year that consisted of reading Wikipedia printouts and then working—unpaid and unsupervised—for two months on a dangerous Staten Island home-construction site owned by a third party. During their “training,” the seven “learned very little that they did not already know,” they said, because they were “already fully capable of performing construction work.” One man had previously worked as a carpenter; another had “extensive experience” and had once supervised 100 people on a worksite; a third had worked as an electrician’s apprentice. Two others quit jobs to enroll in Ratner’s “training,” while another turned down a maintenance job. The seven plaintiffs toiled unpaid because, they say, Ratner’s surrogates promised them trade-union memberships, a pathway to good jobs building Atlantic Yards. Caldwell, whose BUILD salary was funded by Ratner, told them that they should “prepare to be millionaires,” they say. They got nothing. “None of the Plaintiffs has received an offer of employment in a construction job” at Atlantic Yards, according to their suit.


Posted by steve at 11:08 PM

Shocker: Brooklyn Jobs And Housing The Old-Fashioned Way

Huffington Post
By Steve Ettlinger

We need more Red Apples and fewer Barclays Centers.

The Brooklyn Paper just reported that the new Red Apple supermarket that just opened on Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene hired over 70 workers, many of whom are from the public housing projects sitting across from it. In fact, the human resources director for the chain says, "Almost all the jobs have gone to people from the area."

Wouldn't we love it if more major construction could generate that kind of result!

In light of the all the subsidies given to major corporations to create jobs, like Chase and Forest City Ratner, it stands out. After all, Chase, the original downtown Brooklyn subsidy magnet for job creation, has either eliminated or moved most of its jobs.

However, because only the arena is being built at this time, there are few regular jobs being created; an arena is not the same job-generator as an office building, of course. Nor is a residential building going to create that many jobs, and only one is likely to rise next year.

FCR's subsidies for its Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center will total almost $2 billion. Well, Red Apple says they only got this: a job fair and training sessions at the Ingersoll Community Center put together by Councilmember Letitia James and District Leader Lincoln Ressler, among others. The city did re-zone the area, but that was a planned re-zoning for a larger area, not a special exception for a well-connected developer like FCR.


Posted by steve at 11:03 PM

Following up on one vocal BUILD supporter

Atlantic Yards Report

One supporter of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), who attended a press conference Tuesday to respond to a lawsuit naming BUILD, was Vincent Haynes, who entered the conversation at 2:40 of the video below


"Contrary to the allegations that have been made by [Council Member] Letitia James and others," Haynes said, "BUILD has been responsible for employing many individuals. I can attest to that. I have been one of the individuals who landed employment."

Was that construction work, or at Atlantic Yards? No, Haynes replied, unwilling to specify where he works. "However, BUILD does an excellent job by providing to the community resources in terms of job development, job placement, and job training."

That is not at issue in the lawsuit, which regards trainees in a selective program who charge they were promised construction jobs and union memberships.


Just as the plaintiffs invoked the presumed protections in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), so too has Haynes. Brooklyn the Borough reported in August 2009:

Vincent Haynes, 49, works as a Civil Servant at an unspecified city department and is a consultant to Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) and lives in Crown Heights.

I think [the opposition is] a lot of smoke and mirrors, bells and whistles, pomp and circumstance, but they know like we know that the project’s going to go through and it’s only a matter of time before they’re going to climb aboard and they’re going to be in the caboose. Too much money has been invested, contracts have been drawn up, we have things in writing. It’s not just a verbal agreement, it’s a written agreement and if [Forest City Ratner] doesn’t follow through [on affordable housing and/or jobs], the courts will handle it.


Posted by steve at 10:58 PM

Another Atlantic Yards lawsuit Allegations that training program does not bring union jobs as promised

Our Time Press
By Stephen Witt

Seven Central Brooklyn residents last week filed a federal lawsuit against Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) and a local nonprofit organization alleging that the job training program they participated in did not result in their getting a construction union card nor work on the Atlantic Yards site.

The residents participated in a Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) pre-apprentice job training program as part of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) between FCR and several local nonprofit organizations. FCR is the primary funder of BUILD, which is run by longtime Crown Heights community activist James Caldwell.

“We believed them when they said that this was a path to union membership and union jobs,” said plaintiff Kathleen Noriega, 58, of Crown Heights. “They even told us that they had seen the union books that were reserved for us. They told us that we could rely on their promises because the CBA would guarantee that they keep their word.”

City Councilwoman Letitia James, who organized the press conference announcing the lawsuit, said the plaintiffs not only failed to find jobs out of the program, but also performed free labor in the construction of a house on Staten Island. “As time moves forward, the mounting distance of (FCR President) Bruce Ratner’s promises becomes more apparent with the Atlantic Yards project,” said James. “Ratner has not fulfilled his promise of 17,000 jobs for the community. Ratner is not delivering on the 2,250 affordable housing units he promised. FCR has not delivered much to the community, and continues to do an injustice to Central and Downtown Brooklyn residents by disregarding their voices.”


Posted by steve at 10:57 PM

November 17, 2011

Atlantic Yards Lawsuit Plaintiffs Allege Broken Promises


Former Build supporters sue the organization and FCR from rumur on Vimeo.

Here’s a video of the press conference on Tuesday about the lawsuit over Atlantic Yards jobs. The footage, shot by Milica Petrovic, shows some of the plaintiffs saying they were promised union jobs at Atlantic Yards after completing a training program. Maurice Griffen, one of the people suing, has this to say: “They guaranteed me a union card. They said it’s not a question of if we have it, it’s just a question of if you complete the program or not.” Meanwhile, a lawyer from South Brooklyn Legal Services says the suit hinges on “contract law…if a promise is made it has to be kept…these were promises made at the Community Benefits Agreement, they were made at orientation…” Councilwoman Letitia James says the plaintiffs “were had.”


Posted by eric at 12:42 PM

November 16, 2011

Brooklyn Residents File Lawsuit to Recover Unpaid Wages

The Local [Clinton Hill/Fort Greene]
by Chester Soria and Martin Leung

Ironic that The Times, which sent experienced reporter Liz Robbins to cover the Nets' staged event at Borough Hall, sent two interns to cover the press conference about the lawsuit. Let's hope they get better treatment in their training program than the ex-trainees got from Forest City Ratner and BUILD. And frankly, their reporting is better than The Times's usual Atlantic Yards coverage.

[Plaintiffs' attorney Nicole] Salk added that the plaintiffs entered the internship program because they were guaranteed union jobs and that they continued working because they were told they would not receive membership if they stopped.

Marie Louis, BUILD chief operating officer, attended the press conference with other members of the organization to find out who the plaintiffs were. She argued after the press conference that all the plaintiffs signed an agreement that said they would not receive pay or be guaranteed union membership.

“They knew it was an unpaid internship,” Ms. Louis said, adding that the plaintiffs misunderstood the agreement. “We can’t help it if people have an idea in their mind that they laser in on.”

Those lasers, of course, were guided by falsehoods.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys, however, said after the press conference, that a signed agreement does not mean that their clients were not entitled to pay.

“You can’t waive your right to be paid for your labor,” said Molly Thomas-Jensen, a SBLS staff attorney.

Maurice Griffin, 23, of Prospect Heights, was one of the plaintiffs at the conference. Mr. Griffin said that he personally asked James Caldwell, BUILD president and CEO, about union books — membership cards that denote union membership — and that Mr. Caldwell told him he had nothing to worry about. He also said Mr. Caldwell told the class that he himself had seen the union books.

“You can ask all the 36 students,” said Mr. Griffin, “and all 36 will tell you that the said the union books were guaranteed.”


Related coverage...

NY Observer, SUIT: Forest City Broke Union Promises

“Their understanding was that upon being admitted (into the unions), which (BUILD instructors) guaranteed they would be when they completed the program, that they would be given a job on the Atlantic Yards construction site,” Matt Brinckerhoff, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, told The Commercial Observer.

Mr. Brinckerhoff added that the training itself was “muddled and haphazard” and taught the participants “various platitudes.”

Gothamist, Atlantic Yards "Interns" Suing Forest City Ratner For Broken Promises

Posted by eric at 5:05 PM

“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.

Click thru for much more.


Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

Lawsuit Against Forest City Ratner And The Fallacy Of Relying On A White-owned Monopoly To Create Construction Work For The Minority Community

Noticing New York

I’d like to focus on one particular aspect of the lawsuit, the question of what Forest City Ratner really ought to owe everyone. The plaintiffs are represented by South Brooklyn Legal Services and one of the attorneys I spoke to today commented that it was sort of absurd that Forest City Ratner had to be sued for not delivering what was essentially the jobs “sweetener” promised for getting control over all the acreage associated with Atlantic Yards. I think that actually trivializes the debt that Forest City Ratner is walking out on.

It is astounding to think that with the resources of its huge mega-monopoly Forest City Ratner is stiffing people for even these few jobs. The 22 acres of Atlantic Yards are contiguous to other Ratner-owned acreage, making for 30 contiguous Ratner-owned acres at the site, with 50+ Ratner-owned acres in the area. That’s an awful lot of mega-monopoly tying up resources in the community accompanied by an unwillingness to hand out jobs.

More important, it should not be overlooked that the creation of the Ratner mega-monopoly precluded and destroyed other jobs. Therefore, I don’t think it is a case of Ratner just owing the community or individuals the few jobs that were the promised sweetener in connection with all the Ratner takings; what Ratner owes the community ought to be commensurate with all the jobs destroyed or precluded by the mega-monopoly.


Posted by eric at 12:24 PM

Bait and switch? Ratner sued over ‘sham’ job-training program

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner set up a “sham” job-training program that ended up screwing workers out of promised union positions on his $5-billion mega-project, a bombshell lawsuit charged on Tuesday.

The workers say that they were promised union membership and jobs in exchange for taking a 15-week apprenticeship course in 2010, but were never hired on at the Prospect Heights site — which includes the Barclays Center and 16 residential towers on a 22-acre parcel of land stretching from Flatbush Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue.

“They told us they would set aside jobs,” said Kathleen Noriega, one of the plaintiffs. “What they did was wrong and misleading.”

Noriega and six other plaintiffs are being represented by South Brooklyn Legal Services, which has long been involved in Atlantic Yards-related suits.

“The project developers … blatantly violated many federal and state statutes designed to protect individuals from exploitation,” said lawyer Molly Thomas-Jensen. “The project developers … also made promises, to community members and directly to the plaintiffs in this case, that they have broken.”


NoLandGrab: We don't see how this could have happened. We had Bruce Ratner's word, for crying out loud.

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

November 15, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg: "You have Bruce Ratner's word. That should be enough for you..."

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Seven construction workers, including former outspoken supporters of Atlantic Yards, promised union cards and construction jobs on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project are filing suit in federal court today against the developer, the community group funded by him—Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD)—and others.

The video clip below is from Battle for Brooklyn. The clip is a response to a reporter's question about whether the Atlantic Yards Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is legally binding, Mayor Michael Bloomberg answers, "You have Bruce Ratner's word. That should be enough for you and everybody else in this community."

You gotta see it to believe it:


Posted by eric at 11:44 PM

Construction Workers Sue Atlantic Yards Developer, Claiming They Were "Duped"

Workers allege that Forest City Ratner and the non-profit BUILD failed to deliver promised union cards and jobs following unpaid apprenticeship program.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

Claiming they were duped, seven Brooklyn construction workers are sueing the developer of the Atlantic Yards Project and a local community organization for failing to deliver union cards and construction jobs they said were promised at the end of what they call a “sham” job-training program.

“I was robbed,” said Maurice Griffin of Crown Heights at a news conference today in the shadow of the rising Barclays Center. Griffin, like many of the plaintiffs, quit a job to join the program.

”I would never have joined this pre-apprenticeship program if it wasn’t agreed (guaranteed) to me that I would have a union card upon completion,” he said.

Councilwoman Letitia James, who organized the press conference, called both the pre-apprenticeship program and the Atlantic Yards Project “the greatest bait-and-switch in the history of Brooklyn.”

Read on for more of this sordid story.


Photo: Amy Sara Clark/Patch

Related coverage...

NY1, Locals Claim Atlantic Yards Developers Denied Promised Construction Jobs

This is priceless:

Developer Forest City Ratner said, "We have already generated 50 percent of the projected economic activity for phase one. Were it not for the delays brought on by opponents of the project, including some of those behind this law suit, even more people would be employed right now.”

NoLandGrab: "Some of those behind this law suit?" The people "behind" this lawsuit are seven former Atlantic Yards-supporting BUILD members who got screwed over by Forest City & friends.

My Little O [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], Unpaid Wages and broken Promises

The seven plaintiffs participated in a Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, created by the project developers totrain community residents for construction jobs within the arena and project. The plaintiffs alleged that they were repeatedly and consistently told that upon completion of the program they would earn membership in building trades unions whose workers would be employed by the Project. Instead, they said they never received any offers of employment at Atlantic Yards, and were only employed for two months in the construction of a house on Staten Island, for which they received no wages or other compensation.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Another Atlantic Yards Lawsuit

The suit seeks the recovery of unpaid wages as well as damages based on alleged false promises. The plaintiffs are represented by South Brooklyn Legal Services (a program of Legal Services NYC) and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP.

Atlantic Yards Report, Documents from the lawsuit against BUILD & FCR: the press release and the legal complaint

Posted by eric at 11:26 PM

The missing Independent Compliance Monitor for the Atlantic Yards CBA: it should have reported on the construction job training initiative, now subject of a lawsuit

Atlantic Yards Report

I've written several times about the failure of Forest City Ratner to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM) as required by the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement.

That failure has saved Forest City up to $100,000 a year and has helped the developer stave off a closer look at total number of jobs at the project site.

Beyond that, it seems, the failure to hire an ICM has diverted scrutiny of Forest City's pre-apprentice training program, the subject of a lawsuit filed today by trainees who said they were promised jobs.

The missing reports

There's no ICM, so we've never seen a report on the training program. However, the CBA, excerpted at right, requires quarterly reports from the Developers to the CBA Coalition (representatives of the eight signatories) and ICM, including:

Number of Community residents presently enrolled in the Pre Apprentice Training initiative; Community Boards in which they reside and percentage of Minority (by category) and women workers; household income; number who successfully completed such initiative, and number who obtained jobs at the Project Site; successful participants length of current employment at the Project Site; percentage of successful participants as to number of total apprentices at Project Site”

(Emphasis added)

Had such reports been issued, the lawsuit might have been averted. Similarly, had figures who advocated for Atlantic Yards by citing the CBA--like Public Advocate Bill de Blasio--spoken up, it would not have taken a lawsuit to bring the lack of a compliance monitor to light.


NoLandGrab: But really, who needs an Independent Compliance Monitor when you have Bruce Ratner's word?!!!

Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

BUILD, its unpaid customer service training for an appreciative cohort, and a graduation ceremony featuring some "Occupy Central Brooklyn" rhetoric

Atlantic Yards Report

In the spring of 2000, activists including ACORN, the WEP Workers Organizing Committee, and the Rev. Al Sharpton marched against low-wage jobs at the Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Center mall and Regal Cinemas in Brooklyn, as described in William DiFazio’s 2005 book Ordinary Poverty.

The low end of the retail wage scale usually doesn't pay living wages. So it’s notable that Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) recently began to focus on unpaid customer service training--involving classroom sessions and unpaid internships--to position people for hospitality and retail jobs.

After all, BUILD--which had no track record in job training but is led by people with records of community service--was established with the expectation of high-paying construction jobs at the Atlantic Yards project.

The CBA mandated that BUILD offer pre-apprentice construction job training, funded by Forest City Ratner, with the implication that it begin shortly after the CBA was signed in 2005.

That finally happened last year; today, some who went through training have filed suit saying it's a sham. At the least, as I explain, Forest City is now emphasizing that the program--promised as training "Community residents for construction jobs within the Arena and Project"--aims to help new workers develop the kinds of skills that they can use beyond this project."

Click thru for much more about BUILD and its programs.


Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

Seven (of 36) trainees who went through job training program for Atlantic Yards construction jobs sue Forest City, BUILD, others, claiming promises were a sham

Atlantic Yards Report

But wait — they had Bruce Ratner's word!

Forest City Ratner and Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) have made extensive promises regarding construction jobs for locals at the Atlantic Yards project, a new lawsuit contends, but have not come through.

A Daily News exclusive today, headlined Promise of union jobs a lie by Atlantic Yards, suit by construction workers charge, presages a press conference this afternoon about the suit.

The essence of the case

Notably, the plaintiffs include some people who vocally supported the project with the expectation of jobs. The Daily News reports that workers who say they were promised Atlantic Yards construction jobs instead got "a sham training program" and "offers to work in maintenance, a health club and McDonald’s."

Were workers guaranteed construction work, as alleged? No, BUILD CEO James Caldwell told the newspaper. His organization, along with the deeper-pocketed Forest City Ratner, and individual company executives, are named in the suit.

Forest City declined comment until the company sees the suit. Likely crucial to the case is what specifically the trainees were promised, and how that can be established in court.

Click thru for more.


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner, BUILD, James Caldwell Sued in Federal Court Today for Broken Atlantic Yards Promises

Seven construction workers, including former outspoken supporters of Atlantic Yards, promised union cards and construction jobs on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project are filing suit in federal court today against the developer, the community group funded by him, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), and others.

Remember, it was Mayor Bloomberg who was famously caught on tape, as seen in the film "Battle for Brooklyn," saying that legal agreements aren't necessary because, "You have Bruce Ratner's word. That should be enough for you." It appears that neither his words or agreements carry much weight.

The only promise kept so far is to construct a money losing, community disruptive, environmentally damaging billion dollar arena in the midst of a housing crisis for a team in a league that is currently working its way into oblivion.

Brownstoner, Lawsuit to be Filed Over Atlantic Yards Jobs

One of the plaintiffs had this to say: “I believed I was going to be employed, that jobs were going to come into my community. …It was all lies.” Meanwhile, the president of BUILD says the program never guaranteed construction jobs. Matthew Brinckerhoff, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs along with South Brooklyn Legal Services, is quoted as follows: “It’s galling that people living in the community were conned into enthusiastically supporting this project based on the promise of jobs.”

The Brooklyn Paper, ‘Betrayed’ workers to sue Ratner today

Ratner once boasted that the 22-acre project would create 1,500 jobs per year over a 10-year buildout, but roughly 700 people are currently at work on the arena.

The paltry numbers have prompted disgruntled workers — who backed the project during its approval process five years ago — to rally regularly for jobs.

NoLandGrab: At least the paltry few got construction jobs, unlike these duped trainees.

The Real Deal, Construction workers sue Ratner over false promises at AY

The workers say they enrolled in Ratner's training program for construction workers on the project, weren't fully compensated for the work they performed during the training and afterwards were offered jobs in maintenance, a nearby health club and a McDonald's.

Atlantic Yards Report, Given the lawsuit against BUILD and FCR, will the New York Times revisit the 2005 "modern blueprint" claim?

Remember this 2005 New York Times article about Forest City Ratner and BUILD?

Now there's a lawsuit.

NLG: But wait, people — they had Bruce Ratner's word!

Posted by eric at 11:54 AM

Promise of union jobs a lie by Atlantic Yards, suit by construction workers charge

Seven construction workers to sue Bruce Ratner

NY Daily News
by John Marzulli & Erin Durkin

But they had Bruce Ratner's word!

They say they were promised good paying union jobs on Brooklyn’s largest construction site.

But what they got from what a new lawsuit charges was a sham training program were offers to work in maintenance, a health club and McDonald’s.

Seven construction workers will sue developer Bruce Ratner Tuesday, accusing him of falsely promising them the moon to win political and community approval of his controversial Atlantic Yards project.

He not only failed to deliver the jobs but also stiffed them for work they performed in the training program, they allege.

“I believed I was going to be employed, that jobs were going to come into my community,” said electrician Kathleen Noriega, 58, of Crown Heights.

“It was all lies,” said Noriega, one of the plaintiffs filing suit Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The suit contends Ratner claimed plans for a new sports arena for the Nets and 16 residential and commercial skyscrapers would create 17,000 union construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs.

Noriega said she was a vocal supporter of the project’s training program, which offered construction workers membership in building trade unions. Many of the organizations that signed on to train the workers, like Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, were bankrolled by Ratner, according to the suit.

BUILD President James Caldwell, who is named as a defendant in the suit, defended the program, saying most of the 36 participants have been placed in maintenance jobs at other Ratner properties.

Caldwell denied anyone was guaranteed construction work.

“Just like Forest City Ratner made adjustments, (in the size of the project) we had to make adjustments,” Caldwell said.

“It’s galling that people living in the community were conned into enthusiastically supporting this project based on the promise of jobs,” said lawyer Matthew Brinckerhoff who is representing the plaintiffs, along with South Brooklyn Legal Services.

“They were promised union membership with union jobs, instead they got McDonald’s,” Brinckerhoff said.


NoLandGrab: Mr. Caldwell means they had to adjust their lies. Shame.

Posted by eric at 6:24 AM

November 2, 2011

Wanting to ensure "we get the most out of every economic development dollar," de Blasio calls for more transparency and "the subsidy cost per job" (what about AY?)

Atlantic Yards Report

“We have an unemployment crisis in this city that demands we get the most out of every economic development dollar," says Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, so he wants to make sure there's more transparency regarding projects funded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC).

De Blasio said in a press release:

The new legislation to be introduced by Public Advocate de Blasio in the City Council would require EDC to report for each project site:

  • The number of jobs prior to receiving subsidies;
  • The projected number of jobs when subsidies end;
  • The current number of jobs; and
  • The subsidy cost per job.

The legislation is the first in a series of reforms to be proposed by the Public Advocate this month to spur job creation and expand opportunity for the middle class.

That's surely a worthy goal, but de Blasio is not exactly consistent, having not said a word about the failure to monitor the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement.

How many jobs have been created by Atlantic Yards subsidies, and at what cost?


Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

August 25, 2011

Workers vs. Ratner — round two

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

OK, score one for the Brooklyn Paper — the only news outlet to cover yesterday's jobs protest at the Barclays Center site.

More than 30 angry construction workers rallied at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, the latest in a series of recent protests against developer Bruce Ratner for failing to hire more locals.

The protest march from Myrtle Avenue in Downtown to the under-construction basketball arena at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues is the second rally in a month, and featured workers demanding jobs that they say Ratner promised in exchange for union support for the $5-billion mega-project.

“We want jobs for the people that supported the project,” said Martin Allen, the president of People for Political and Economic Empowerment, a group that helps unemployed people find work. “Ratner promised he would give us jobs.”

Sekou Troutman, a Bedford-Stuyvesant construction worker who protested on Wednesday, said he applied for a job with the developer in January, but never received a reply.


NoLandGrab: Ratner promised us Frank Gehry, too, among a host of other things he's not delivering, either.

Posted by eric at 12:02 PM

August 24, 2011

This morning, another protest by P.P.E.E. targets downtown construction sites and Atlantic Yards arena site

Atlantic Yards Report

People for Political and Economic Empowerment (P.P.E.E.), vocal supporters (along with REBUILD) of Atlantic Yards through just two years ago, held a much-noted protest 7/27/11 regarding the lack of local construction jobs and local contracting at Atlantic Yards and other sites.

This morning they're holding another protest, starting at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Jay Street at 9 a.m., and ending later outside the Barclays Center site.


Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

August 22, 2011

Retail and Hospitality Training Opportunity For Jobs at Barclays Center

BUILD Press Release via Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch

Here's the full notice about Barclays Center job opportunities being managed by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development that raised eyebrows last week.

We all know that we are facing one of the toughest economic periods in our history. Job growth has declined dramatically while unemployment levels seem to be ever increasing. Although there does not seem to be a recovery in sight, we at BUILD know that there is light at the end of tunnel for a select few.

With Barclays Center set to open next year, there will be a number of employment opportunities in the retail and hospitality industries, both in, and around, the arena. Currently, we are working with a number of retailers around the arena and are looking forward to providing access to potential employment opportunities in these sectors for high-energy individuals with positive attitudes.

You can gain a competitive advantage by participating in our Retail and Hospitality Training Program that begins Sept. 6. This will be a competitive process with space limited to 25 individuals in each session. We are looking to place individuals that are serious and have a desire to work in and around a World Class Arena. If you are interested you must R.S.V.P. for one of the following information sessions: Monday, Aug. 22, Tuesday Aug. 23 or Wednesday, Aug. 24. Information sessions will take place at noon and 3 p.m.

To reserve your place or for more information please contact us at (718) 230-7095.


NoLandGrab: Apparently, you don't have to be 18-to-30 years old and free of a criminal history — just enthusiastic with a sunny disposition.

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

August 21, 2011

Looking back at Andrew Zimbalist's work for hire: bad math, obliviousness to the news of a Newark arena, and several updated reports never made public

Atlantic Yards Report

Responding to criticism of the self-serving Atlantic Yards fiscal impact study he prepared on behalf of Forest City Ratner, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist told the 6/29/04 New York Times, in an article headlined A Plan Passes And an Arena Is Protested In Brooklyn, "I was very careful in my use of numbers."

I'd call that a classic example of the "journalism of assertion" the Times purportedly eschews in favor of the "journalism of verification."

While I've spent a lot of time dissecting Zimbalist's work, I--and everyone else, I believe--missed a sloppy, careless error that was not fundamental to his argument but exemplifies, I'd argue, the casual manner in which he prepared his for-hire study.

That math error misreported the number of estimated jobs.

Beyond that, Zimbalist, as if oblivious to any responsibility for verification, missed the news that a new arena was coming in Newark.

Still, Forest City Ratner's business savvy in hiring Zimbalist led to credulous editorials, like this one, from the 5/4/04 New York Sun, headlined Sports, Jobs, and Taxes (echoing the title of one of Zimbalist's books):

Mr. Zimbalist is the nation's leading expert on the financing of sports arenas and co-author of the bible on the subject, a report issued by the Brookings Institution called Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. He has a national reputation for arguing against the use of public dollars to pay for sports arenas. But even Mr. Zimbalist likes the proposed Brooklyn arena deal.

It also led to slapdash coverage like a New York Post article headlined "NETS GOOD SPORT$," in which Gersh Kuntzman (now editing the Brooklyn Paper) asserted that "developer Bruce Ratner's proposed arena for the New Jersey Nets in Downtown Brooklyn would pump more than $800 million into city and state coffers over the next 30 years."

Neil deMause noted that the sum referred to revenues from the entire project, not just the arena, prompting Kuntzman to comment that, while he understood Zimbalist's findings, he was just using "shorthand."


Posted by steve at 5:15 PM

August 19, 2011

Yes, BUILD was responsible for that customer service training notice; today, BUILD issues broader invitation to apply for such training

Atlantic Yards Report

What did we tell you?

So a representative of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) was, after all, responsible for the the questionable word-of-mouth solicitation for potential entrants into a 100-person training program seemingly associated with the Barclays Center arena.

And Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, who perhaps was not in a position to know full details, was wrong in telling me the info I had--circulated by the Community Board 8 District Manager--was wrong.

I called the solicitation questionable because it specified age limits and no criminal record, both of which are no-no's under state and federal law.

BUILD's notice

At around noon today, several hours after I published my original post, BUILD issued a notice (below) describing a somewhat similar training program, with information sessions to start Monday.

Click thru for more.


Posted by eric at 4:01 PM

The Barclays Center seeks 100 customer service reps; the rest is murky (and was notice discriminatory?)

Atlantic Yards Report

As with many job-related aspects of the Atlantic Yards saga, this one's a bit murky.

Brooklyn Community Board 8 members got a message yesterday via the District Manager, Michelle George:

I was just informed that the Barclays Center is looking to hire 100 Customer Service Representatives between the ages of 18-30. An orientation meeting will be held on Monday, August 22, 2011. There will be a 7 week training program beginning September 6, 2011. If you know someone who is interested, please email, fax or call the district office with the name and telephone number before 5pm today (August 18, 2011). (No criminal record)

Out of bounds?

While this was not exactly a job advertisement, it struck me as questionable to specify age and no criminal record.

Indeed, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says:

An age limit may only be specified in the rare circumstance where age has been proven to be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).

Also, the Legal Action Center states:

The New York State Human Rights Law states that an applicant may not be denied employment or licensure because of his or her conviction record unless there is a direct relationship between the offense and the job or license sought, or unless hiring or licensure would create an unreasonable risk to property or to public or individual safety.

Wrong info?

"This is not accurate," Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco responded, when I asked him for more info about the program and whether it was appropriate to specify age and criminal record. "Apparently they sent you wrong info. It is, I think, the build [BUILD] job training program but it would be open to all eligible people."

I also contacted Community Benefits Agreement signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) but didn't hear back yesterday.

DePlasco's comment was curious because I had earlier in the week received information very similar to that circulated by CB8 via another source.

That source, citing language different to that used by CB8, called the application process a word-of-mouth affair and said there's no guarantee those going through the training program would be hired.


NoLandGrab: Norman Oder goes on to speculate about the particulars of the job posting. Here's our conjecture:

-this is what happens when you assign job-training and recruitment to an astroturf organization with no prior job-training or recruitment experience.
-having BUILD (or someone else) put this out gives Forest City plausible deniability for something clearly discriminatory.
-the focus on 18-to-30 year-olds lets them claim eventually that they were helping the area's young people, for whom the rate of unemployment is high.
-there are already plenty of crooks associated with the Atlantic Yards project and they just don't need any more.

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

Mailbag groaning over our Brooklyn Bridge Park coverage

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters to the Editor

While the mailbag was bulging because of Brooklyn Bridge "Park," Long Island's leading letter-writer weighed in wisely on Brooklyn's biggest boondoggle.

To the editor,

Why am I not surprised that Bruce Ratner and Forest City continue to act like pigs at a trough feasting on taxpayer dollars (“Workers to Ratner: Where are the jobs?,” Aug. 5)? In too many cases, projects have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Between direct government funding, low-interest loans, and long-term exemptions, the bills to taxpayers may be greater than the benefits.

Too many mega developers make promises to local community groups for the creation of jobs along with awarding of contracts to residents and businesses, which, just like in this case, have yet to see the light of day.

If these projects, such as Atlantic Yards, were so worthwhile, why didn’t major developers, such as Bruce Ratner, use their own funds or obtain loans from banks, rather than pick the pockets of taxpayers to pay a significant portion of the bill?

Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don’t want to do it the old-fashioned way by sweat and hard work. They continue looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at the taxpayers’ expense and favors from elected officials.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, NY


Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

August 10, 2011

Latest consultant's report: 370 workers on the job (fewer than Forest City Ratner's numbers); arena still ahead of schedule (but lingering schedule issues?)

Atlantic Yards Report

The jobs reality is a little different than what Forest City told the Amsterdam News.

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 8/5/11 and based on a 6/23/11 visit and documents made available 7/25/11, the Barclays Center remains one month ahead of schedule and the transit connection remains two months ahead of schedule.

The estimate, based on cash flow, comes in a report prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

As I wrote 7/22/11 regarding the previous report, some items should provoke further inquiry, such as a discrepancy between the number of workers reported and the number reported by Forest City Ratner.

Also, there may be a lingering dispute about the schedule.

Workers on site: 370 vs. Ratner's numbers

There seem to be fewer workers on site than Forest City Ratner has reported.


Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Brooklynites ask, ‘Where the jobs at?'

New York Amsterdam News
by Cyril Josh Barker

Low-income and minority residents in Brooklyn say they are being left out in the cold while looking for jobs in developments springing up throughout downtown Brooklyn. An organization looking out for their interests, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), put together a job hunt last week, bringing together 50 unemployed young people. However, the search yielded no results, as they stopped at sites at the CityPoint development, MetroTech Center and others with no luck.

FUREE also solicited developments near the MetroTech Center run by JP Morgan Chase, Forest City Ratner and the Partnership. Ratner is at the helm of one of Brooklyn's largest construction projects: the Barclays Center sports arena.

Ratner, despite having received over $675 million in government aid, currently employs only 430 workers but pledges 17,000 new jobs. FUREE is also accusing Ratner of failing to deliver other community benefits as promised.

Meanwhile, Forest City Ratner said that it has numbers to back up claims that it is hiring workers from the community. The figures they sent to the AmNews indicate that there are 612 workers on site and 228 of those workers are from Brooklyn. There have been 102 placements to date and 59 of these workers are still on site. Forty-nine of those placements are residents of community boards 2, 6 and 8.


NoLandGrab: Of course, Ratner's jobs figures are pure fantasy.

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

August 4, 2011

A partial loophole in Forest City Ratner's plan to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor for the CBA, but the developer still hasn't fulfilled its obligation (and backers are quiet)

Atlantic Yards Report

I should revise my analysis of Forest City Ratner's obligations under the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM).

I wrote 11/29/10 that Forest City Ratner lied about CBA, claiming it went into effect only when the arena broke ground, and avoided hiring an ICM. I stand by that overall critique. The CBA went into effect shortly after it was signed in June 2005.

However, in terms of hiring an ICM, a footnote in an RFP (Request for Proposals) gave the developer slack until shortly before the groundbreaking, thus contradicting the language (likely) and spirit (clearly) of the CBA.

Even with that slack, however, Forest City Ratner has evaded its obligation, leading to regular situations, as I've described, in which the developer publicly self-reports on compliance with the CBA.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Beyond the over-hyped CBA: Bloomberg announces new plan to address jobs and training for young black and Latino men; response includes a good measure of skepticism (too little, too late?)

Once upon a time, Atlantic Yards and its Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) was portrayed as solving a decent chunk of social problems in Brooklyn. Actually, that was pretty recent; then-Governor David Paterson, at the March 2010 arena groundbreaking, declared, “As the buildings rise on Atlantic Yards, the joblessness rate will fall here in Brooklyn.”

Maybe a somewhat comprehensive strategy is necessary.

A front-page article in today's New York Times, Bloomberg to Use Own Funds in Plan to Aid Minority Youth (or in print "City Campaign Seeks to Lift Young Black and Latino Men"), reports:

The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a blunt acknowledgment that thousands of young black and Latino men are cut off from New York’s civic, educational and economic life, plans to spend nearly $130 million on far-reaching measures to improve their circumstances.

The program, the most ambitious policy push of Mr. Bloomberg’s third term, would overhaul how the government interacts with a population of about 315,000 New Yorkers who are disproportionately undereducated, incarcerated and unemployed.

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

Concrete workers ordered back to work, including at arena site, but union said to plan appeal

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's New York Business today, Ruling: Some WTC workers can't strike: An arbitrator late Tuesday ordered striking concrete workers back to their jobs at four sites across the city, ruling that their walkout violated a no-strike provision in labor agreements covering the projects.

The order covered walkouts at Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, World Trade Center Tower 2 and a luxury residential development on West 57th Street. A separate hearing is set for later today on the walkout at a new Weill Cornell Medical College research center on East 69th Street.

...A source close to the building trades said the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council would appeal the ruling. The source said the union's counsel was not properly notified about Tuesday's hearing and therefore did not know about it in time to show up. Had officials known about the hearing, they would have argued that the no-strike provision was no longer in effect because the workers' contract expired at the end of June.


Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

August 3, 2011

Lies, Damn Lies, and Developers

The L Magazine
by Ross Barkan

Marching past the skeletal shadow of the rising Barclays Center, Carl Patterson roared that he was sick of broken promises. "We are tired of 'once upon a time,'" he yelled through a megaphone. "We want our dreams to come true now."

Patterson, a community activist in Brooklyn's 35th Council district and the self-proclaimed "Puerto Rican Al Sharpton," led a group of more than 40 protesters on a recent mid-week morning, marching near the construction site as a police car crept alongside.

People for Political and Economic Empowerment, which organized the protest, was once a vocal supporter of the Atlantic Yards development. But now the organization, which helps train and place hard-to-employ people like ex-convicts in jobs like construction, says that local construction workers aren't getting the jobs they were promised.

"In this country, there's two ways to do things: one is through litigation, and the other is through fisticuffs," said Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., the Bedford-Stuyvestant district leader. "Hopefully, the litigation will be enough. I don't think they understand how difficult it is for people in certain communities to eat, feed their families, and do everything."


NoLandGrab: Damn, why hadn't we thought of that — fisticuffs!

Posted by eric at 8:33 AM

August 1, 2011

Citywide concrete workers strike affects Atlantic Yards arena; job action apparently delays pouring of superstructure concrete

Atlantic Yards Report

Hmm, maybe Forest City will (need to) hire some of those guys protesting at the arena site last week after all.

A long-threatened citywide strike of concrete workers began this morning, including picketers at the Atlantic Yards site, thus apparently stalling some critical work on the arena, notably the pouring of superstructure concrete.

About a dozen workers picketed, and a representatives said they were about half the 25 union concrete workers at the site, down from a peak of nearly 50.

It was the second job action in less than a week outside the gate to the Barclays Center site at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street, Last week, in an unrelated event, mostly non-union workers condemned the lack of local hiring and contracting.

Forest City Ratner may have special interest in ensuring that the strike gets settled, or an agreement is reached with the contractor for this job site. The arena, unlike an office residential building, must open by the fall of 2012 for the NBA season. (As of now, it's ahead of schedule, but weather and unpredictable events such as strikes could cause delays.)


Posted by eric at 2:21 PM

Supporters turn on Atlantic Yards project

Joseph's Blog

The Daily News reported (“New Ratner foes as jobs ‘up in smoke,’” 7/28/11) that people who once supported the Atlantic Yards development in downtown Brooklyn are criticizing it because of the low number of construction jobs.

Borough residents who are not already construction union members cannot get jobs for the project. A Ratner spokesman said the company still expects more jobs to be added, especially by the time the arena and 16 towers are done.

I think this is exactly what Ratner deserves. The project was too good to be true and detrimental to the area to begin with. Hopefully, the project is crippled so much that it is called off completely and the area gets developed to the benefit of those who live and work there.


Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

July 29, 2011

Brooklynites Who Once Supported Atlantic Yards Switch Sides, Claiming Broken Promises

Runnin' Scared
by Zoe So

Across the street from the under-construction Atlantic Yards stadium, the future home of the Nets in Prospect Heights, a group of about 100 Brooklynites gathered yesterday to protest several large development projects in the neighborhood which they say have not delivered the promised job and contracts to the local community.

The project was presented as "a win and double-win situation" for the developers and community, said Robert E. Cornegy, Jr, the Democratic District Leader in neighboring Bed-Stuy who was present at the rally. "But we got hosed," Cornegy said.


NoLandGrab: Folks who failed to smell something rotten when "win and double-win" and "New Jersey Nets" were combined in the same deal really have only themselves to blame. Maybe, just maybe, they should have been taking NoLandGrab to heart.

Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

July 28, 2011

Did Forest City Ratner try to avert yesterday's rally? There were hints, plus an FCR associate shadowing the protest

Atlantic Yards Report

Did Forest City Ratner or others try to stop yesterday's protest, led by People for Political and Economic Empowerment (P.P.E.E.)?

P.P.E.E. president Martin Allen, in the interviews below, hinted as such, though he wouldn't name names. He said they wanted to avert the protest, and call him in for a negotiation.

He said he wanted a public negotiation, with promises for local jobs and hiring fulfilled as promised. If such another project arose, I asked what he'd do differently? Get it in writing, he said.

But Forest City did sign a Community Benefits Agreement, so the devil's in the details.

Shadowing the protest

At one point, the woman pictured at [right], along with an associate walked along, observing the protest.

One of the protesters identified her to me as Yvette, the daughter of Darryl Greene, the controversial minority hiring/contracting consultant who was so toxic, because of his criminal record, that his role in one firm's Aqueduct "racino" bid led to the demise of that bid.

Greene's firm, The Darman Group, has long worked for Forest City Ratner and was supposed to help the firm hire an Independent Compliance Monitor to report on the Community Benefits Agreement.

A records search indicates that Darryl Greene has a relative named Yvette Dennis.


Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

The Ratner response to yesterday's protest: there are 543 workers, 217 from Brooklyn (really?); one report asks, Where's the ICM?

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, Forest City Ratner claimed in the Daily News that there were 543 workers on the Barclays Center construction site, and that 217 of them live in Brooklyn. Norman Oder thinks not.

I question those statistics.

Keep in mind that, at the 7/14/11 Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, Forest City reported 430 workers on site. Even if that number has increased, keep in mind last month a more independent source--the consultant to the arena bond trustee--reported 320 workers--while in May Forest City had reported 500.

As for the number of Brooklyn workers, aid Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin, stated, verbatim. "[S]ince construction began approximately 180 Brooklyn residents have been working on site."

(Emphasis added)

Cumulative totals are not the same as current statistics.


Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

FUREE, looking for "missing jobs" promised in Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, protests Forest City Ratner, focuses on Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Atlantic Yards Report

In contrast to yesterday morning's protest by People for Political and Economic Empowerment regarding the lack of local jobs and contracts, an afternoon protest held by FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality), was more organized, with protesters wearing t-shirts, planning with the police, chanting and singing, and offering both agitprop theater and concrete demands.

FUREE, which brought 40-50 people to several sites around Downtown Brooklyn, including the offices of Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, focused on the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), asking (unsuccessfully) for a meeting with DBP President Joe Chan.

They contrasted the promises of 18,500 new jobs with the reality, which includes a claimed 7000 new jobs--I'd like to see the statistics.

The press release below points out that, instead of jobs (via office towers) the main result of the 2004 Downtown Brooklyn rezoning was luxury housing.

I'd add that planners and the City Council neglected to require that, should developers take advantage of increased development rights and build luxury housing, they should have been required to share the fruits of their increasingly valuable property and build affordable housing, as via the now-standard practice of inclusionary zoning.


Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

At protest outside Atlantic Yards site, former project supporters angrily call for local jobs and contracts

Atlantic Yards Report

The big news from yesterday's protest of the lack of jobs at the Atlantic Yards site (and other sites), held by People for Political and Economic Empowerment (P.P.E.E.), was less the content of the protest than the fact that it occurred: formerly vocal (and disruptive) supporters of the project were now holding a protest, as I noted in my preview piece.

But the protest (videos below), which focused on Atlantic Yards (and went to one other site, near the Brooklyn Academy of Music), was notably angry, as P.P.E.E. President Allen and others excoriated developer Forest City Ratner from outside the gate and, at times, admitted regret for their formerly pro-project stance.

About 60-70 people attended, though Allen and others vowed future protests, with larger crowds. If so, Forest City--which may have tried to avert the protest--will have more on its hands.

Note that, despite the sign above, the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) shouldn't be void because Bruce Ratner and his company sold 80% of the Nets and 45% of the arena to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov. But it is tough to monitor, or enforce.

The protesters gathered at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, with a good number of reporters present, most if not all drawn by a Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn press release based on my preview article.


Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Atlantic Yards project's former supporters turn on developer over lack of local jobs

NY Daily News
by Erin Durkin

The Atlantic Yards project is falling short on the number of promised construction jobs - prompting protests from some of the project's biggest backers.

Advocates and would-be workers who loudly backed the project at years of public hearings turned their bullhorns yesterday on developer Bruce Ratner.

"We feel like idiots because we supported you, we listened to you, we thought your word was gold," said Martin Allen, president of People for Political and Economic Empowerment. "Now that you got the job moving, you turn into a rat."

Oh, no, Mr. Allen, Bruce Ratner was a rat long before he hatched his Atlantic Yards scheme.

Hector Diaz, 51, of Bushwick, who is unemployed, said he went through 18 months of training in flagging, painting and carpentry and hoped to get work on the project.

"I marched. We went to City Hall. ... We supported Ratner to get this project," Diaz said. "It was all a dream. It's up in smoke."

Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development is sticking to the script, however.

"At first, yes, we were frustrated," said BUILD President James Caldwell. "They had to make adjustments and we had to make adjustments, too. ... As long as it's a decent job, we're willing to take it."


Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Paper, Unions to Ratner: Hey, where are the jobs?

Um, it was mostly non-union workers who were protesting.

Local workers who once championed the Atlantic Yards project have turned their back on developer Forest City Ratner — vowing to protest every two weeks until they get what they were promised: thousands of jobs.

Allen and other workers say they’ve heard enough empty guarantees.

“We’re going to start hitting them where it hurts and let them know what they’re doing is wrong to the people of Brooklyn,” Allen said. “If you’ve got offices in Brooklyn, we’re going to be there.”

The Epoch Times, Atlantic Yards Construction Jobs Not Delivered, Protesters Say

This article is riddled with errors, but it got this right:

All of the [Community Benefits Agreement] stipulations rest on the oversight of an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM). The ICM is a committee composed of representatives of each benefit category, explained [Brooklyn Community Board 2 District Manager Robert] Perris in a phone interview. The ICM is responsible for assessing whether Forest City Ratner has sufficiently fulfilled its duties.

“The ICM has never been funded,” said Perris. “I'm not sure if they've ever met. We've not been apprised of any meeting or of how successful any commitments have been.”

State of the Re:Union, “Broken Promises” in Brooklyn

One of the promises made by the project’s developer, Forest City Ratner, was the creation of construction jobs for residents of Brooklyn. But at a recent meeting, Ratner said that of the 500 workers currently employed at Atlantic yards, 60 were from Brooklyn and only 38 from neighborhoods surrounding the project.

So today, dozens of Brooklyn residents gathered to protest at the worksite. Among them, community activists who were once supportive of the Atlantic Yards project, now say they feel like “suckers” because they put their support behind the development.

Posted by eric at 10:26 AM

July 27, 2011

'A Broken Promise' Over Atlantic Yards Jobs

Workers rally in the shadow of the still-rising Barclays Center to express outrage over a lack of construction positions for Brooklyn residents.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

It pains us to say we told you so, because we're talking about peoples lives and livelihoods, but good God, we've been telling you so for more than seven years and some 17,000 or so posts.

Community activists once supportive of the Atlantic Yards mega-project today angrily denounced developer Forest City Ratner over what they called a lack of available construction positions for Brooklyn residents.

"We feel like suckers because you made us tell our people something that wasn't true," yelled Martin Allen, a community organizer for People for Political and Economic Empowerment, into a bullhorn just outside the gates to the Barclays Center worksite on Sixth and Atlantic avenues. "Because none of the people are inside this project that supported this project."

Allen helped rally around 100 community activists and workers, many of whom, like Victor Richardson of Crown Heights, have been unemployed for over a year or more.

"They promised us work before they even started and we got nothing yet," said Richardson, a non-union worker who said his last job was at a construction site in The Bronx.


Related coverage...

Prospect Heights Patch, VIDEO: 'A Broken Promise' Over Atlantic Yards Jobs

Brownstoner, Protesters Call for More Jobs at AY, Downtown Projects

“We’re fighting because we’ve been lied to,” [People for Political and Economic Empowerment President Martin] Allen told the crowd. “We were promised jobs and they never came.” He also yelled toward the construction site, addressing developer Bruce Ratner: “You’re shameful… you’re a monster to Brooklyn.”

Posted by eric at 10:02 PM

Some Atlantic Yard supporters are now changing their tune

NY Daily News Sports ITeam Blog
by Michael O'Keeffe

Atlantic Yard Report blogger Norman Oder reports that some of the loudest supporters of Bruce Ratner's basketball arena and the rest of his massive development scheme have finally figured out that all those promises of jobs, jobs, jobs were BS, BS, BS.

"Saying 'We need jobs, not broken promises,' a group that loudly and sometimes disruptively rallied in support for Atlantic Yards is changing its tune, organizing a public protest on July 27 outside the in-progress Barclays Center site and nearby Downtown Brooklyn-area construction sites," Oder writes.

"The rally, aimed to start at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues at 9:30 a.m., is sponsored by P.P.E.E. (People for Political and Economic Empowerment), which helps train and place hard-to-employ people, some of them ex-convicts, in construction work.


Related coverage...

Curbed, Jobs Protest at Atlantic Yards

ATLANTIC YARDSVILLE—The heat can't stop the anti-Atlantic Yards sentiment—it just comes out earlier in the morning. People for Political and Economic Empowerment will be holding a rally at 9:30 tomorrow morning "to protest the lack of promised jobs at Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards site and other development sites in the greater Downtown Brooklyn area," according to a press release from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. The rally will start at the corner of Atlantic and Sixth avenues.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, July 27: Disaffected Atlantic Yards Supporters to Protest Lack of Jobs at Project Site

It is a shame that Ratner treats his (former) supporters in such a way that now they need to rally to protest his broken promises...even though it was predictable. We are certain the folks rallying tomorrow would be happy to have others join in solidarity.

Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

July 26, 2011

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Weds, July 27. 9:30-11:00 Rally for Jobs

We Need Jobs, Not Broken Promises

Rally Called by People for Political and Economic Empowerment to Protest Lack of Promised Jobs at Atlantic Yards Project Site and Other Greater Downtown Brooklyn Area Development Projects

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn would like to bring your attention to the announcement at this link ( from People for Political and Economic Empowerment (P.P.E.E).

P.P.E.E. has called a rally for tomorrow, July 27th from 9:30 to 11:00, to protest the lack of promised jobs at Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards site and other development sites in the greater Downtown Brooklyn area.

(Please note that the rally is announced on the flyer to start at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, but we have been told it will start at the corner of Atlantic and 6th Avenues, next to the under construction Atlantic Yards arena.)

Today on his Atlantic Yards Report Norman Oder wrote about the planned rally and the organizations and individuals who've organized it.

Posted by eric at 1:38 PM

Another protest tomorrow, from FUREE, regarding the lack of jobs at Atlantic Yards site and other sites

Atlantic Yards Report

Beyond the protest scheduled tomorrow morning by P.P.E.E. (People for Political and Economic Empowerment) and REBUILD, FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality) tomorrow afternoon will be holding "WHERE THE JOBS AT?", a "Walking Tour & Action" aimed to highlight the lack of jobs at Atlantic Yards and other construction sites.

(FUREE, unlike the other groups, has never been an Atlantic Yards supporter.)


The hunt starts @ 1PM at FUREE’s office – 81 Willoughby St., Suite # 701.

Unemployment is high... Wages are down... Our communities are struggling... IT'S TIME TO TAKE ACTION!

"WHERE THE JOBS AT?" Walking Tour & Action

Across Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn big developers and corporations are given millions of tax-payer dollars and tax-breaks to build in our communities.

They promise jobs and/or affordable housing in return.

But what happens when the much-hyped community benefits shrivel up or disappear? How do we hold them accountable?

Join FUREE for a neighborhood walking tour and creative action to track down the missing jobs. From the Fulton Mall to Atlantic Yards to lesser known sites in the area, we’ll hunt down the mysterious job snatchers and find the real solutions we need.

Bring your family and friends, your FUREE t-shirts and noise-makers.

MORE INFO / RSVP to FUREE at: 718-852-2960 ext. 306, lucas(at)furee(dot)org.


Posted by eric at 12:33 PM

Formerly vocal and distruptive Atlantic Yards supporters, P.P.E.E. (and REBUILD), to rally July 27 protesting lack of jobs at AY site and other construction sites

Atlantic Yards Report

The Atlantic Yards saga is now moving toward a version of blowback.

Saying "We need jobs, not broken promises," a group that loudly and sometimes disruptively rallied in support for Atlantic Yards is changing its tune, organizing a public protest on July 27 outside the in-progress Barclays Center site and nearby Downtown Brooklyn-area construction sites.

The rally, aimed to start at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues at 9:30 a.m., is sponsored by P.P.E.E. (People for Political and Economic Empowerment), which helps train and place hard-to-employ people, some of them ex-convicts, in construction work.

P.P.E.E. is essentially interchangeable with REBUILD, an organization launched in 2004 by the late Darnell Canada, a pro-project activist who had just left BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), a signatory of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. BUILD also works on job training, though for a broader range of jobs beyond construction.

"Don't tell me one thing one day, and then when the day comes, when the work is coming, you tell me something else," Martin Allen (right), Canada's friend and president of P.P.E.E., told me, during a recent interview at P.P.E.E. headquarters in Bushwick, on a stretch of Broadway where storefront churches vie with retail outlets.

(P.P.E.E. and REBUILD, once located on Gold Street near Downtown Brooklyn, saw that space demolished for the luxury Avalon Fort Greene, and had to seek inexpensive quarters farther away from the Fort Greene housing projects that are part of their base.)


NoLandGrab: Here's hoping they'll have a large inflatable Ratner at the protest.

Posted by eric at 12:11 PM

July 8, 2011

Area Residents Will Not Get Priority For Red Apple Supermarket Jobs

Company representatives say laid-off workers elsewhere in the city to get first dibs at 100 positions at the long-promised Myrtle Avenue grocer.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
by Paul Leonard

For residents eagerly awaiting the arrival of badly-needed fruit and vegetables—not to mention jobs—it was an important first step.

Beginning this week, the office of Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, will be accepting applications on behalf of the Red Apple supermarket slated to open this September in The Andrea building at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Ashland Place.

That's the good news.

Now make room for the not-so-good: according to representatives of the Red Apple Group, laid-off workers elsewhere in city, many of whom are members of UFCW Local 1500, will get first dibs on the approximately 100 positions created at the new market.

While those union rules provide important protections for existing workers, that means there could be significantly less jobs to go around for residents, particularly those in nearby Whitman, Ingersoll and Kingsview Houses—areas where the need for quality employment with benefits are the greatest.

Longtime borough residents may remember that promises of the positive net impact in terms of jobs as a result of new development have been made in the past—namely by Forest City Ratner at Atlantic Yards. However, very few of those construction positions so far have gone to Brooklyn workers, again partly due to union rules.


NoLandGrab: But mostly due to Forest City Ratner's "promises" being a load of b.s.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

June 29, 2011

The Battle for Brooklyn: Deconstructing the Unions

The Icehouse Gang
by Kevin Baker

Unions in this country have historically raised the living standards of all Americans, but they’ve also done much, much more than that. No other major institution—certainly not the business community—has been as consistently altruistic, as supportive of causes that are not directly beneficial to itself, as the labor movement.

Not so much New York’s construction unions.

Sad to say, much like construction unions all over the United States, and for many decades now, the construction trades here have insisted on blindly supporting pretty much every single building project, no matter how awful an idea it is, and no matter who is going to be hurt by it.

Is there a project in your neighborhood that’s oversized, woefully ugly, dependent upon tearing down beloved local buildings, or threatening to destroy your community altogether? Don’t worry, New York’s construction unions are in favor of it, just so long as they can spend a few weeks or months flooding your community with workers who mostly don’t live there and won’t have to deal with the consequences.

By supporting the whole “pro-growth agenda” right down the line; by remaining bastions of white privilege, by pretending that there won’t always be sufficient construction activity in New York if they don’t endorse every single, odious land grab that comes along, the construction trades systematically undermine all attempts at building a better, more just, more sustainable New York.

And in the end, predictably enough, they screw over themselves as much as anyone.


Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

June 11, 2011

Bruce Ratner's 2 Billion Dollar Subsidy Has Produced Seven (7) Local Jobs

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

At times it varied, but Forest City Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Schumer and a host of Governors promised anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 construction jobs on the Atlantic Yards project.

According to the most recent arena site observation report call Forest City claimed there are 360 jobs on site right now.

And according to a report from a Community Board 2 board meeting, there are 7, SEVEN, 7 as in s-e-v-e-n local jobs on site right now.

With anywhere from a 1 to 2 billion dollar subsidy for the project, that isn't just a pitiful job record...its downright enervating.

From Fort Green Patch:

...In his presentation to the full board, CB2 member Thomas Conoscenti reported on a visit by James Caldwell, president of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD).

With the help of groups like BUILD, Cognoscenti expressed hope that progress could be made on ensuring that area jobseekers received preference for positions in maintenance, janitorial services and in other operations at the arena.

Despite promises made by developers regarding the economic benefit to neighborhoods adjacent to the Atlantic Yards mega-project, only seven active employees from the area were currently engaged in Barclays Center construction, according to Cognoscenti. (Emphasis added.)

Oh, there isn't a single affordable housing unit under construction, either.

Jobs, Housing and Hoops. Yeah, right.


Posted by steve at 9:58 PM

Gastropub On Tap For Myrtle Avenue

Application for sidewalk cafe approved Thursday night at regular meeting of Community Board 2 in Clinton Hill.

Fort Greene Patch
by Paul Leonard

Talk about burying the lead!

Also on the agenda at Thursday night's meeting in Clinton Hill was a proposal by CB2's Education Committee to extend the exterior "safe zone" surrounding area schools from 1,000 to 2,000 feet, as well as efforts to make sure that jobs at the new Barclays Center basketball arena go to local residents.

In his presentation to the full board, CB2 member Thomas Conoscenti reported on a visit by James Caldwell, president of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD).

With the help of groups like BUILD, Cognoscenti expressed hope that progress could be made on ensuring that area jobseekers received preference for positions in maintenance, janitorial services and in other operations at the arena.

Despite promises made by developers [aka FOREST CITY RATNER] regarding the economic benefit to neighborhoods adjacent to the Atlantic Yards mega-project, only seven active employees from the area were currently engaged in Barclays Center construction, according to Cognoscenti.

Emphases, ours.


NoLandGrab: Wait, what?!!! Just s-e-v-e-n people from the area are on the Atlantic Yards site? We thought BUILD's mission — they signed a Community Benefits Agreement to that effect, for heaven's sake — was to get local people jobs building Atlantic Yards.

Kudos to Bruce Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg, a quartet of governors and numerous ESDC chairpersons for solving Brooklyn's employment woes. Well done.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner's 2 Billion Dollar Subsidy Has Produced Seven (7) Local Jobs

At times it varied, but Forest City Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Schumer and a host of Governors promised anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 construction jobs on the Atlantic Yards project.

According to the most recent arena site observation report call Forest City claimed there are 360 jobs on site right now.

And according to a report from a Community Board 2 board meeting, there are 7, SEVEN, 7 as in s-e-v-e-n local jobs on site right now.

With anywhere from a 1 to 2 billion dollar subsidy for the project, that isn't just a pitiful job record...its downright enervating.

Posted by eric at 2:07 PM