New York, NY –Councilman Jumaane Williams joined today hundreds of tenants and supporters at the massive Flatbush Gardens housing complex in Brooklyn to welcome the 70 workers’ return to work. A Federal District Court ruled against the owners of Flatbush Gardens, Renaissance Equity Holdings, to end a 16 month lockout and order Renaissance Equity Holdings to go back to the bargaining table.
“Today we stand tall on our way back to work. We won one battle but the war is not over, said Hector Figueroa, Secretary-Treasurer of 32BJ. “We will continue fighting at the NLRB and at the bargaining table for what is fair for the Flatbush Gardens workers and tenants: A fair contract with wages and benefits that support our families.”
Flatbush Gardens’ workers were illegally locked-out by Renaissance Equity Holdings. Renaissance insisted on proposals to cut wages and benefits by more than 30 percent cut and to gain the right to lay off the entire workforce. In 2010, 32BJ filed unfair labor practice charges against Renaissance with the NLRB alleging that the lockout was unlawful and that Renaissance engaged in bad faith bargaining.
“Flatbush Gardens’ owners have shown they have no regard for the health and safety their workers or the welfare of their tenants. This is indicative of management’s general approach to both workers and tenants. They have locked out the workers for close to 16 months and have only responded to tenant repairs when mandated by the City. No one should be expected to work and live in this manner.”
Renaissance is controlled by the embattled real estate mogul David Bistricer. At the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) trial, the government demonstrated that Bistricer and the other shareholders in Flatbush Gardens paid themselves more than $37 million between 2007 and 2009 – payments which they had concealed from the union at bargaining. These documents also showed that the shareholders’ family members were being paid fees and other things of value from the property’s operations, including lease payments on a Lexus driven by Bistricer’s son.
Because the evidence at trial was so strong, and the harms caused by the lockout were so egregious and irreparable, the National Labor Relations Board authorized its New York City office to file an injunction petition under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act to end the lockout and reinstate the workers.
With more than 120,000 members, including 70,000 in New York, 32BJ is the largest private-sector union in the state.