Please note our new postal address when sending
contributions to the legal fund:
121 5th Avenue, PMB #150
Brooklyn, New York 11217
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and
there are 51 community organizations formally
aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.
DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000
subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition
signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB
to form our various teams, task-forces and committees
and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person
volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our
We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large
and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized.
We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual
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.
"Not only was I lied to, and my classmates, but Brooklyn was lied to," added plaintiff Clarence Stewart (in first video), saying the students were told they would work on the project but instead were offered jobs at McDonalds. "He basically stole Brooklyn, and every time I pass by the arena, it makes me sick and appalled."
The plaintiffs are suing for both back wages, based on unpaid construction work, as well as likely more significant sums regarding alleged deceptive practices regarding expected union memberships and jobs at the project. The suit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages
The Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program (PATP) was required under the CBA, signed in June 2005, but not delivered until more than five years later:
Commencing upon execution of this Agreement, Developers and BUILD shall initiate and coordinate a job training program to train Community residents for construction jobs within the Arena and Project...
"It is sadly something we can all agree on: we were all stiffed," said state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, in a statement read by staffer Jim Vogel. "I applaud them for standing up and saying what was done to them was wrong." ...
Continue reading and watching for more about the suit, its back story, and BUILD's defense at the post press conference scrum. While BUILD mounted a vigourous defense at the press conference, the only defense against the serious and documented allegations will be the one mounted in court. And Norman Oder wonders, rightfully, who will pay for BUILD's defense if its benefactor Forest City Ratner decides it is a cost it cannot truck.