Some of the Chang / McSam Hotel Group projects:
It seems it's time to do just this ...
this article from the Village Voice posted in the Remy Condo Thread and re-printed below) -- is now under investigation regarding unfair labor practices ...
Goshen company's labor practices investigated
By Raja Abdulrahim
December 26, 2006
Goshen — The new co-owner of the former Owen Murphy Inn building is under investigation by the state Attorney General's Office for unpaid wages and overtime of former employees.
A spokesman from the New York State Department of Labor said it had received complaints regarding Michael Mahoney and his company, EMC Contracting, and referred them to the Attorney General's Office which is now conducting an investigation. The Attorney General's Office would not confirm or deny the investigation.
The former Irish pub, restaurant and banquet hall on Route 17M has been vacant for two years. When Mahoney and his business partner John Whyte bought the place in March for $1.4 million, they said they planned to keep it an Irish pub and restaurant and hoped to open by this past November.
Not much work has been done on the building, which has large areas of exposed wood and brick. Chunks of stucco lies in piles on the ground. The banquet hall — which once hosted weddings and parties — now reads "Exquisite Baqets" in brown wood letters. The "U" lies in the bushes underneath. It's not clear where the "N" is located.
The investigation into the company began after a New York City carpenter's union took a closer look at Mahoney and his company, based in Belleville, N.J., in April because they were using nonunion labor. At the time EMC was working on several construction projects in the city.
Andres Puerta, union representative for the New York District Council of Carpenters, claims Mahoney's employees are largely undocumented and work in unsafe conditions. Fourteen of his former employees have already filed for unpaid wages with the Labor Department, Puerta said.
Mahoney did not return repeated calls for comment.
It's not clear what this means for the Owen Murphy building, which appears to have been at least partially gutted. The Goshen building inspector said the partners were at one point supposed to appear before the Planning Board but canceled.
It doesn't seem like good news for the building, which has already been through several reincarnations. Originally a farmhouse, the banquet hall was attached in the 1970s. It became La Neve's, a French restaurant, followed by another journey into that cuisine as La Masquerade, which closed in 1998. It then became the Owen Murphy Inn.
(C) Orange County Publications
Some of the Chang / McSam Hotel Group projects:
The article on Chang / McSam / EMC from the Village Voice ...
Labor War in Chelsea
For the first time, non-union immigrants are building Manhattan's high-rise towers
by Tom Robbins
May 9th, 2006
There's a nasty little chapter in the national immigration debate playing out along the side streets in the West Twenties in Manhattan these days ...
The buildings now rising in this corner of the old garment district in Chelsea appear to be the largest non-union developments yet. On West 26th, West 28th, and West 29th streets, a trio of soaring 24-story towers is being constructed by a Queens-based developer named Sam Chang, who has carved out a local niche as a builder of moderately priced hotels. Chang's McSam LLC, city records show, has spent more than $100 million in the past 18 months to acquire these and other development sites around the city. The three multimillion-dollar projects on the West Side (one is expected to be a Hampton Inn) are aimed at out-of-town businesspeople and budget-minded tourists.
To build them, Chang turned to a non-union general contractor named Tritel Construction, which in turn subcontracted much of the work to a firm based in upstate Pearl River called EMC Contracting. EMC, records show, only recently shifted from building one- and two-family homes to constructing multi-story projects.
The key ingredient that makes such projects feasible is an abundance of cheap immigrant labor, and that's what's building the three towers on the West Side. Without a union card in their pockets, or much else in the way of either job-training certification or documentation, immigrant workers are constructing wooden frames, bending steel bars, and pouring concrete. They can be seen shinnying up newly poured concrete columns, most of them without the safety belts required by federal safety and health regulations.
In addition to the job hazards, their pay, according to union organizers and workers who agreed to talk about their employment under a guarantee of anonymity, is less than half the roughly $40-an-hour-plus-benefits package that a union carpenter or laborer would receive.
The immigrants say they are also being treated to a curious two-tier wage system under which young Irish men on the job are being paid $20 to $25 an hour, while Brazilians—bused in daily from Newark's Ironbound section—are paid less, between $15 to $20 an hour.
In mid April, members of the carpenters' and laborers' unions began picketing the sites and trying to talk to the workers about job conditions. They've sprinkled the projects with flyers urging workers to contact the union. "Union carpenters get what they're worth! Do you?" reads a flyer detailing the health, pension, training, and job placement benefits for union members. To reach the workers, organizers have waited on street corners in the early morning to snag workers on their way to the job sites, and even tossed the flyers from adjoining buildings onto the projects.
Photo: Giuletta Verdon-Roe
Carpenters' union organizer Tommy Costello:
"Our fight's not with the workers."
Contractors have responded by beefing up security with private guards. They have also hired retired police detectives for protection, and according to union organizers, off-duty cops as well.
Twice so far, tensions on the blocks have spilled over into brawls. On April 21, a fracas broke out after union members allegedly blocked the path of a truck delivering supplies to the West 26th Street site. According to the union, plainclothes security guards tumbled out from behind the gates of the job site wielding long blackjacks. When police arrived on the scene and began grabbing at security guards and union members alike, one guard allegedly yelled, "Stop, I'm a cop," while holding up a shield. Police eventually arrested five men, all of them members of carpenters' union Local 608, who were charged with resisting arrest and inciting to riot.
A week later, on April 28, another fight broke out on West 28th Street after someone tossed a smoke bomb at the work site. In the melee that followed, a union member, Anthony Mercado, was sliced on the back of the head with a utility knife, a wound that left a long, ugly gash that took several staples to close. Police initially arrested a 28-year-old Irish immigrant worker named Mark Wynne, who gave an address in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx. But Wynne was later released after he was not identified in a lineup.
Tensions at the sites were ramped up even more when concrete trucks making deliveries from a Brooklyn plant were accompanied by carloads of young black men, several of whom allegedly flashed guns at the union pickets, most of whom are white. "I'm gonna put a cap in your ass," one of the men allegedly threatened an organizer.
All of the incidents at the job sites are currently being investigated by the labor racketeering unit of the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, a spokeswoman confirmed.
Sam Chang, the projects' developer, failed to return several calls to his office in Floral Park. A secretary suggested that he might respond to an e-mail message, but those also went unanswered. Also playing nonspeaking roles in the drama were Jimmy Wu, owner of the contracting firm Tritel, and Michael Mahoney of EMC, both of whom did not respond to messages.
Union organizers are careful to emphasize that their beef is with the employers, not the workers.
"What they've got going here is an underground economy," said Tom Costello of the New York District Council of Carpenters, who has been monitoring the West Side non-union sites. "There's no taxes being paid, there's no workers' compensation, no health protections."
Costello's father was a carpenter who emigrated from Ireland and found work through the union after his arrival. A carpenter for more than 30 years, Costello has worked as a foreman on major construction projects, and also as an instructor in the union's apprentice training program. He said he had watched in amazement at the risks being taken by the non-union workers as the building has taken shape. "You're sending a kid from São Paolo, Brazil, and another from County Donegal, and neither one of them has ever worked on more than a two- or three-story job, and making them a high-rise construction worker. It's not that easy," he said.
He said that standard procedures for testing the strength of the concrete and the durability of the steel reinforcement bars were not being conducted. "Someone's going to get hurt on the job," he said, "and the public should also be worried."
Another union organizer, Andres Puerta, whose family came from Ecuador, said that he had persuaded several individual workers to sign up with the union. "They talk about how scared they are," said Puerta. "They're scared of being hurt at work, and they're scared of losing the job. Most of them are sending money to family members at home."
The union organizers said that most of the young immigrants had brushed off suggestions that they needed health insurance in case of illness or injury. "They think, 'What do I need that for?' " said Costello. "Most of these guys are making $25 an hour cash, and they are putting in 60 hours a week. So maybe they're making $1,500 a week, not paying any taxes. They see it as the best deal of their lives."
John Greaney, the president of the carpenters' Local 608, which has 7,500 members and whose jurisdiction covers Manhattan's West Side, said the union was trying to appeal to both employers and workers alike. "Our fight is not with the workers," said Greaney. "We welcome them. We are not going to do the job of the government. We are not INS agents. What we're up against here is the corporate greed of these developers and construction companies."
Whatever their motivation, non-union contractors are clearly taking up a bigger share of construction work. Nationally, according to research by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, unions' share of the construction industry has plummeted from a high of 80 percent in the years right after World War II to less than 18 percent today. Even in New York State, traditionally union-strong territory, organized labor's share slipped below 50 percent for the first time in the 1990s and is believed to be even less currently.
The notion that organized labor will be able to forever hold on to big-ticket projects has been nourished by giant, government-backed developments like the pending new Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan and the new stadiums slated for Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. In each of those cases, labor used its political muscle to help win approvals. But while labor was focusing on those mega-projects, private developers of non-union ventures like the new high-rises in the West Twenties have slipped into town.
"There's been a false sense of security," said one union labor analyst. "There's a creep factor that started in the South and the Southwest, and eventually hit upstate and the outer boroughs. Now it's right in Manhattan."
Copyright © 2006 Village Voice LLC
Last edited by lofter1; January 13th, 2007 at 07:56 PM.
And wouldn't it be interesting if a cement manufacturing facility in Brooklyn -- FSC Concrete aka Brooklyn Ready Mix Corporation --across from 184 Kent (the old Austin Nichols Warehouse-soon-to-be-revised-building by Arquitectonica) were to have a connection to one of the principals of Chang's sub-contractor EMC Contracting ...
Cement Shoes: 184 Kent Getting Another New Neighbor?
Friday, January 12, 2007
Looks like 184 Kent (and Northside Piers) will be getting a new neighbor across the street on Kent Avenue. The Brooklyn Ready Mix plant -- source of many dramatic clouds of dust and the reason the area around N. 4th street always looks like a concrete mixer flipped over -- is getting cement shoes. A neighbor says:Something else interesting here ...You'd think their business would be off the hook with all the pouring in the neighborhood, right? Apparently the lot is worth more than the business. I love the intermingling of industry and residential down here, but that place makes so much dust and dirt, and their runoff gets all over the cars and clogs the storm sewers. I'm sure I've breathed a bushel of concrete dust in two years. I'm happy to see them go. But the way they're going about it - with all the trucks still on the lot, no fence, etc. is bizarre.
DOB Records show that an ECB Complaint regarding 175-185 Kent was investigated way back in 1998:
ILLEGAL OCCUPANCY AS CONCRETE PROCESSING PLANT.B03 27-217 OCCUPANCY CONTRARY TO THAT ALLOWED BY THE C OF O BLDG DEPSEE COMPL- VIOL. ISSUED FOR NO C/O CONCRETE PROCESSING UG 18C/O FOR JUNK YARD UG. 16-17That ^^^ DOB record also shows that the Complaint was "RESOLVED" ...
Hmmmm ... I wonder how the concrete guys managed that, when the ONLY existing C/O is from 1992 -- and the uses at 175 - 185 Kent Avenue are shown as "Community Center / Credit Union"
Dunno ... Maybe they knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody ....
^ It's done with paper bags.
Does anyone know what is going on with Changs Canal Street Site? Is it still on stop work order?
A NEW "STOP WORK ORDER" was issued at the McSam site at 370 Canal on 4.24, for failure to pump water out of the site ...
Meanwhile the Chang Hotels on West 39th (between 8th / 9th Avenues) are seeing progress ...
305 W. 39th (just west of 8th Avenue -- learning the lesson of not sticking out):
At the west end of that 39th Street block the McSam-O-Rama Package of multiple hotels has risen to ~ 9 stories:
The Lam double-hotel project on West 40th (seen above ^^^ in the background) has risen to ~ 25 stories ...
That Comfort Inn is really a depressing bunker.
How long til that little building (335 west 39th) succombs to mcsam? Or the little building at 307? In time the junk on 8th will be sold off too.
You know what, let it happen, I'd rather as many as these Mcsam's as possible be confined to one block
The McSam-O-Rama on W. 39th (just east of 9th Avenue) is now up to ~ 17 stories ...
And butting up against it from behind on W. 40th are the twin Lam hotel projects -- they're now up to about 30 stories ...
You can see the different infill treatment -- so, while the structures are essentially the same, the facades won't be all matchy-matchy ...
Dang! Why did he add those two thin strips of windows? It ruins the aesthetic -- it coulda been a pure form. (If I may add a small addition to one of the famous utterances of London Lawyer): it could have been a PPOS!
Can we just use this thread to rant and purge our systems of this insidious disease?
Strike 3 for McSam at 370 Canal Hotel Site
Tuesday, May 29, 2007, by ROK88
Crazed developer Sam Chang and his McSam gang can't stop rattling their new neighbors down on Canal Street. The Department of Buildings has now slapped the wants-to-be-a 360 Room Sheraton Hotel site with its third stop-work order since work began a few months back. Maybe Sam is just trying to juggle too many projects.
[The McSam/Sheraton Hotel site at 370 Canal Street]
The stop-work order claims that the shoring at the McSam site "collapsed inside excavation, endanger adj property / shanty." Given the looks of the endangered adjacent property, maybe Sam should be given an award if that yellow awning and its accompanying shanty were to come crashing down.