Minimum $84,000 a Year Coffee Boys

A lawsuit filed in New York’s Manhattan Supreme Court has alleged that union coffee boys at the gigantic Hudson Yards development project earned between $42 and $70 per hour to deliver coffee to construction workers at the job site. The project might be as much as $100 million over budget, and the developer blames much of that overrun on the union umbrella group, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC).

One of the coffee boys is the brother of a union official. He is alleged to have been paid for 155 hours of work in the month of February of 2015, while 45 of those hours were categorized as overtime at a time and a half rate of $69.87 per hour including benefits. The lawsuit claims that the coffee boys charge construction workers for coffee and food which makes them vendors rather than construction workers.

Other allegedly improper practices included timesheet fraud. It was reported by the New York Post that one worker claimed to have earned more than $600,000 in wages and benefits by claiming to have worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for a year. The lawsuit claims that other workers ordinarily inflate their hours by 10 to 20 percent.

Gary LaBarbera is the president of the BCTC, and documents filed with the court accuse him of “condoning if not actively participating in, numerous corrupt practices at the construction project.” Those practices allegedly violate a labor agreement that involves 35 different unions that work on the project. The BCTC and LaBarbera are claimed to have tortuously interfered with the project developer’s economic advantage by encouraging certain unions to not even work at the site.

The BCTC has yet to comment on the developer’s lawsuit. It claims that it has not yet seen it. Its spokesperson speculated that the lawsuit is in retaliation against a movement in New York City that is against open shops and development without union involvement.


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