Mm-mm, no troubles here at newly located LIC business Neuman's Kitchen

Mm-mm, no troubles here at newly located LIC business Neuman’s Kitchen

There’s one thing we’ve got in this country and that’s ways of fightin’ back. Gettin’ the facts to the public. Testifyin’ for what you know is right against what you know is wrong. Now what’s ratting to them is telling the truth for you. Now can’t you see that? Can’t you see that?

Two local stories about construction labor in the past ten days caught my eye.  The first reported that four non-union steamfitters walked off the humongous 1,800-unit Tishman Speyer residential project on Jackson due to low pay.

In this case, that happens to be between $16-$33 an hour for an occupation whose definition is:

“one that installs or repairs equipment (as steam pipes) for heating, ventilating, or refrigerating systems”

In other words, not quite the same level of skills and knowledge as a brain surgeon, but far from grunt work.  According to the union representative, this type of occupation in this city should receive $110 an hour.  Thus there seems to be a pretty wide chasm, one that makes both developers and unions suspect.

Which leads to story number two, first reported by Bill Parry at the TimesLedger on July 1, about a labor conflict going on at the infamous 5Pointz site.  The developer, Jerry Wolkoff, is admittedly using some non-union labor, despite an apparent gentleman’s agreement with …well, we’re not really sure with whom, in order to receive a variance to build his towers higher than existing zoning codes allow.  Nevertheless:

“Look, I’ve got nothing against the unions, believe me, but it has to make sense. I have to be able to build at an affordable cost,” Wolkoff said. “I wouldn’t sign a PLA {Project Labor Agreement} that would let them tell me who to hire and who to fire. In this game you’ve got a few chiefs and a lot of Indians when it comes to the unions. Say you’ve got a job for 40 workers and they’ll bring eight supervisors just to watch them. It gets silly and remember, I’ve got to build all those extra affordable units.”

Don’t weep for Jerry, those extra affordable units were a term agreed to in the contract which granted him the variance.  As for the labor picture, the ball seems to have been dropped somewhere.  Either way, just like with the steamfitter story, nobody comes out smelling too good.  Furthermore, given how far this project has already progressed, they shoulda had class, there shoulda been a school here.

//Let’s do some construction math not immediately requiring a labor variable:

Purchase two properties for a total of $44 million

+ take a $42 million construction loan to build new homes

= 38 new townhouses

Then, we divide the total cost $86 million1 ($42 + $44) by those 38 homes =

$2.26 million total cost per home

Throw in a very, very conservatively estimated expected profit margin of 25%, and we’re looking at an average of a $3 million offering price for 38 new homes being constructed in LIC. Now my guess is that each townhouse will fit two homes, but at 140,000 square feet in total, the average size will be over 1,500 square feet, or way big enough for a 3-bedroom.  So whether it’s 38 or 76 total units, this number of family-sized living spaces have never been offered for sale here before.

//In the ‘living-off-the-fat-of-the-land’ category, we give you more More Free Yoga. One can now sport the spandex and the rolled up mat across the back down at the Oval this summer on Wednesday mornings at 7am and Thursday evenings at 7pm, in addition to the days/dates we previously provided.

//The Return of LIC Henge – this Monday and Tuesday, July 11 & 12.  Clothing optional.

Construction Workers Walk Off $875 Million Construction Site – forget the stated “why,” we know it’s all about that cash

Wolkoff Building 5Pointz Without Union Workers

Labor Dispute at 5Pointz Escalatesnot quite as violent as the old days

LIC School Principal Accused of Sex on Campus Fully Vindicatedlooks like a complete set-up by ex-boyfriend as “DOE investigators concluded that claims she’d had the flings he alleged were unsupported”

$42 Million Construction Loan Secured for LIC Townhouses

Excavation Begins on Murray Park Townhouse Projectsee rendering here

Free Yoga Plus a Whole Lot MoreHunters Point Parks Conservancy Schedule also offers meditation and movies out by the Oval, but no backrubs

Manhattan NYC Apartment Renters Push Back to Find Better DealsLIC Glut?

  1. and there are probably some we didn’t include []
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  1. Big R says:

    The unions are losing ground quickly. They should have negotiated to make thier existance more viable. The success of the non-union firms will further crush the unions.
    Old school bullying doesnt work anymore and there are thousands of pipefitters willing to work for $16-$33/hour.

  2. Jp718LIC says:

    So we should be celebrating crushing a union so that guys with a specialized skills end up working for just over minimum wage? Woo Hoo! Not saying it’s worth $110 an hour, but as stated in the story, this ain’t grunt work. I think there is more than enough room for negotiation here. Unions have their issue, but if you crush all the unions you basically have no counterweight to corporate greed. Stuff gets built all the time in Europe, where unions are strong. We don’t need to emulate the Chinese, with no worker protections and massive profits for a ruling elite.

  3. Willi says:

    From the numbers, it sounds like you are describing the project at 11th Street between 45 Road and 46 Avenue. The plans do not indicate any 3 BR units and describing the spaces as “family-sized” is a cruel joke at best. The plans also show only 14 foot wide “townhouses” – a salient dimension the article neglects to point out. 14 foot wide lots are illegal under current zoning, so instead of 38 houses, the project was filed as one lot with 76 units. The width is so challenging (one of the reasons it is illegal) that the stairs to the upper floors cannot fit inside the buildings, so they are outside along the sidewalk creating a nasty phalanx of concrete columns, platforms and stair runs. My guess is that these units are most suited, not for families, but for one person with two thin dogs. Apparently even the developer realizes it will be a hard sell at $3M a piece – the rumor is that they will be rentals.

  4. […] being built on the south end of Murray Park we’re going to lead to the availability of “mucho 3-bedrooms coming to LIC.“  Today we get confirmation that our math was correct with the news from the developer […]

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