Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Residents of One Hanson Greeted by Friendly Union Members & Workers

October 31st, 2008 · 7 Comments

This was the scene outside One Hanson Place last night between about 5PM and 6PM as angry workers and union members protested outside as residents of very expensive apartments were (presumably) returning home. The workers are outraged because the employees providing services to the (rather wealthy) residents are not unionized. They are being denied critical basic benefits like full health insurance for their families. The Dermott Company, which is the management group, says that the condo board will be able to make its own decision about hiring unionized workers when it takes over next year, but for now the doormen and porters are forced to pay $300 per person per month to add family members to their insurance. In one extra bit of irony, prominent investor Magic Johnson can be seen in posters at subway entrances all over town (including some a few blocks away, promoting Aetna Health Insurance).

GL Analysis
That a building in which Magic Johnson–whose life has been saved by expensive drugs presumably paid for by health insurance–is an investor would hire non-union workers to provide services for wealthy people that have bought condos going for multi-million sums (the penthouses are nearly $6 million) and to deny these the families of these hard working people a basic right like health care coverage is beyond despicable. It is immoral. If we were a country with a conscience about the way we deprive hard working people basic rights it would verge on being criminal. Yes, Dermott says the condo board will decide, but their own position is indefensible. And we wonder if residents that don’t support the basic rights of these workers realize that they are one misfortune away from being in a position where a tragedy like an serious illness like cancer strikes a loved one and they will have to watch that wife or child die because they can’t pay for health care. Two words for the management company, for Mr. Johnson and every resident of One Hanson who doesn’t fight hard for the basic human rights of these workers: Fuck You. Yes, it is a very rude and not an intellectual response, but being a hypocrite (in Mr. Johnson’s case), a greedy and lousy company (in Dermott’s case) and a virtual accomplice to the murder of someone who works to serve you (in the case of residents who wouldn’t let these people unionize and get decent benefits) whose spouse dies from a heart attack because he or she doesn’t get proper medical care is an ugly and awful and wretched thing. And, just in case our message the person in the $4M penthouse don’t immediately call the management company and demand union labor or insist on it with the condo board next year isn’t clear, we’ll say it again: Screw Every Single One of You.

Tags: Fort Greene

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tyler // Oct 31, 2008 at 9:58 am

    This topic was brought up on Brownstoner yesterday… so I’m going to repost here what I said there.

    Umm… I’m a union member and am covered by the New York City Employees insurance scheme. There are a couple of plans that cover your family at no additional cost, but these may not be the best for your family’s situation. MOST of the plans require a supplement payment of anywhere between $200 and $1000 per month depending on the family plan.

    I’m a bit ambivalent about unionism in general… unless there is a CLEAR issue of taking advantage of workers (like the housekeepers issues etc. being taken advantage of because of their ethnicity and social status)

    If the non-union doormen are making a decent wage and have health insurance… what’s wrong with that?! I don’t completely agree with Questula above, but he’s got a point. The insurance thing is a red herring. Being in a union does magically mean everything is handed to you on a silver platter.

    The real issue is the Healthcare System, not union/non-union. The fact that healthcare is still such a major part of unionism is simply because there’s no other choice… they have to negotiate and lobby for these benefits. It would be a HUGE benefit to all business and the society as a whole if we can (as a society) move into a more rational way of caring for out health.

    The U.S. spends almost DOUBLE (per capita) of any other country… the gov’t spending in the U.S. on healthcare is about the SAME as places like the German, UK and Japan… and almost FIVE TIMES as much in private sector spending. What do we have to show for it?! Millions of uninsured and millions more under-insured and thousands of doctors that are being shortchanged by the insurance companies making it difficult to provide adequate care.

    Here’s an article from the Economist last week…

    But to get back on topic… Bringing up healthcare/insurance as a point of “outrage” for the unions is ridiculous, ESPECIALLY when the non-union doormen being hired are PROVIDED insurance!! Or is there some other horrible working conditions that the doormen are “suffering” because they are not paying a union a portion of their paycheck?

  • 2 Tyler // Oct 31, 2008 at 10:03 am

    In addition to my long comment above… what about the simpler comment — If insurance for the doormen’s families is that important, why aren’t we just demanding this?! Why is it a union thing… rather than forcing the workers to pay union dues, and forcing the building to deal with the union bureaucracy, what if the co-op owners just ponied up the insurance?

    I have a feeling this wouldn’t appease you…

  • 3 david // Oct 31, 2008 at 10:56 am

    tyler — why am i surprised to hear the voice of reason coming from a union member? cause i have a bad habit of unfairly stereotyping people, thinking all union members are accessories to featherbedding or, worse, aparachik’s in the mob’s war for control of the city. glad you set me straight on that.

    gl — it’s posts like this that folks like me were fearful of losing when your earlier hiatus looked like it might become permanent. no wonder people don’t read newspapers anymore….

    gl — i love it when you air it out, calling it how you see it.

  • 4 Ed // Oct 31, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    If you were stupid enough to be reading Brownstoner, we don’t care what you think.

  • 5 Ed // Oct 31, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I’m glad you think so, Tyler, and I hope you’ll recognize it as an opportunity to learn, not just criticism.

  • 6 Tyler // Oct 31, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    I am hoping you find my post above educational or at least take it as the thoughtful commentary that it is…. though, based on your “You’re stupid, we don’t care what you think” approach to life, it’s been lost on you.

    I’m actually just curious, did you actually read anything I wrote? Or just dismissed it out of hand and moved on to insults?

  • 7 Flapjacks // Nov 1, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Union != Fair, good jobs. You can be for good working conditions and be anti-union.

    This kind of political ranting has become oddly more common here over the past two or three weeks.