Within sight of the scenic, fast-developing Hoboken waterfront, nearly two dozen concierges at the luxury development The Shipyard, most of whom have no access to quality healthcare or benefits, rallied Tuesday afternoon, to ask Ironstate Development, a major property owner in the area, to provide good jobs to Hoboken essential workers.
Holding up a banner saying “Ironstate: Shape up or Ship Out!,” the Shipyard workers were supported by two dozen building service workers from area buildings and by elected officials, including Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla. Workers say they want to be able to “call Hoboken home” ahead of Labor Day.
“Personnel at Ironstate buildings lack the basic benefits, and the dignity that all essential workers deserve,” said Kevin Brown, Vice President of 32BJ and New Jersey State Director. “If Ironstate wants to build, they must hire contractors that treat these workers as essential, not expendable. The city of Hoboken deserves responsible developer and contractors to lift up everyone – not just the wealthy few.”
“This is the city I love, and this city is my home; but many like myself need good jobs to afford a living in Hoboken,” said Jaron Bermudez, a Shipyard concierge who relies on Medicaid to address their health problems, “We need benefits, healthcare, dignity and respect.”
“As my track record has shown, our city will \ support new development, but it needs to benefit all. Developers must bring good jobs that support working families,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “And I support workers at the Shipyard. Their work must be recognized by having their conditions reflect industry standards.”
Despite handling large volumes of packages and other needs as essential workers throughout the pandemic, subcontracted building service personnel at Ironstate buildings lack meaningful health benefits, transparent paid time off policies, and other benefits. The workers only receive one or two weeks of combined paid and sick leave annually, and they are not guaranteed paid time off for isolation or quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite continuing to keep Hoboken families safe.
The Shipyard workers have been in bargaining to secure a fair contract for over a year, as their calls for dignity and respect go unanswered.
The frontline workers at Ironstate’s developments demand Ironstate to commit to good wages and benefits by ceasing to contract with negligent contractors such as Planned Companies at the Shipyard and throughout Hoboken. Planned Companies and Ironstate Development have yet to address the mistreatment of hundreds of essential workers.
Parsippany-based contractor Planned Companies has a history of paying people poverty wages with few meaningful benefits, engaging in wage theft to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and repeatedly breaking federal labor laws.
In 2017, the Northern NJ District of the US Department of Labor investigated Planned and found they had engaged in wage theft by failing to pay the full overtime wages owed for training periods to more than 500 employees, ordering the company to compensate employees for more than $60,000 in stolen wages. Over the past decade, the New Jersey Department of Labor has cited Planned’s various divisions for numerous other wage and hour violations, including for failure to pay the full wages owed to residential workers in Hoboken, Weehawken, Elizabeth, West Long Branch, Lakewood and Trenton.
With more than 175,000 members in 11 states and Washington, D.C., including 13,000 workers in NJ, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.