New York, NY— Workers at 1711 Fulton, a residential building complex in Bedford-Stuyvesant that gets state assistance for affordable housing, today protested Vertices Holdings’ decision to cut all of their jobs after they had maintained the building for decades.
They were joined by about 30 supportive residents who are also concerned about their own future in the building.
The nine workers at 1711 Fulton found out they were let go on Monday night, three months after Vertices took over and cut their pay by as much as 45 percent and eliminated health care and retirement benefits.
“For the last three months we have seen our pay cut and faced constant threats and harassment from management,” said Willie Hill, the building’s super who has worked at 1711 Fulton since 1985. “We believe management targeted us because we were in the union and now we’ve all lost our jobs. We’ve been struggling to support our families on about half our pay but this is even worse. We are going to fight back because no company should be allowed to do this to its workers.”
The workers protested in front of 1711 Fulton and asked the tenants at the building to call on Vertices principal Abraham Hoffman to restore good jobs and ensure the building is an affordable place to live in the future.
The building is part of the state’s Mitchell-Lama program to provide affordable housing but, according to press reports, at the end of the year, it will have the option to opt-out and the future of affordable apartments at the building is unclear.
When Vertices bought the building on March 3, the nine workers were informed their pay would be cut by $10 an hour and that they would lose their health care and retirement benefits. The company refused to honor the workers’ union contract and the workers were subject to harassment and threats they’d be fired because they wanted to keep 32BJ as their union.
The workers’ union 32BJ has filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board over Vertices’ refusal to bargain a contract for the workers and for harassing the workers because of their support of 32BJ as their union and bargaining representative. They now plan to file again with the board for firing the workers due to their membership in and support of the union.
Vertices Holdings Principal Abraham Hoffman is also the CEO of Bushburg Properties, which has been called “decidedly hip” by the Real Deal and has developments in Ridgewood, Downtown Brooklyn, Bushwick and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
“We will keep up the fight for these workers and for good jobs in Bed-Stuy,” said 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer Kyle Bragg. “We urge Mr. Hoffman to focus on development in Brooklyn that is good for workers and for the long-time community members who have made Brooklyn their home. We call on him to rehire these workers and commit to keeping 1711 Fulton an affordable place to live.”
With more than 145,000 members, including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.
# # #