Fed-up Construction Workers Rally in Jersey City

Hundreds of union construction workers—members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA)–rallied in Journal Square this afternoon to protest what they cite as the “rampant exploitation of construction workers on construction projects in Jersey City.”

On hand, were several workers who were employed on Lefrak’s The Wave Development project (30 Park Lane North, Jersey City) by Eatontown-based contractor Concrete Rising. As many as 260 workers — almost all immigrants –said they faced constant mistreatment and abuse on the LeFrak project. They described being belittled and shamed on the job site, their wages stolen, and their lives were regularly put in danger.

“It is an absolute outrage that in a city of billionaire developers building housing for millionaires and offices for multinational corporations, workers are treated so inhumanely.” said LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager Mike Hellstrom. “LeFrak is not alone, but also not absolved of responsibility, in benefitting from a system that rewards illegality, abusing workers, and depressing both wage and safety standards in the construction industry.”

Recognizing the limitations of government enforcement, LIUNA is implementing the Laborers Fight Back campaign to root out corruption and worker exploitation on construction projects in New Jersey. The union will employ dozens of experienced worker organizers who will monitor projects of all size, meet with workers, forward any evidence of illegal actions to the appropriate authorities, and advocate for all workers’ rights.

Rev. Carl E. Styles, business manager of the New Jersey Building Laborers District Council, said that he is fed up with a “broken construction industry” that favors those willing to cheat the system. “In few industries would such illegal and abhorrent behavior be treated so indifferently as it is for construction,” he stated.

Pinning down illegal activity is a difficult endeavor because of the precarious nature of construction employment for unorganized workers and workers’ fear of employer retaliation.

For this reason, LIUNA said it is committing considerable resources to Laborers Fight Back. “We want a construction industry that works for responsible project owners, honest contractors, and the hard-working people who build,” said Styles. “If any part of that equation fails to do its part, the entire industry suffers. We can’t let that happen.”

In recent years, the construction boom of Jersey City has left countless workers and entire communities behind. Developers like LeFrak and Kushner Real Estate Group (whose project was adjacent to the rally) continue to amass a growing portfolio of new and renovated buildings (and the wealth it generates) while honest contractors get shut out of work and labor standards for wages, benefits, and safety get eroded, the labor leaders said.

Hipolito “Paul” Roldan-Eng, the business manager of Laborers Local 3 which serves the northern New Jersey counties was more direct in his criticism: “billionaire developers, and crooked contractors get rich, and workers get screwed,” he said. “Every day and for many years now, we have witnessed the unjust and imbalanced treatment of workers, especially among the immigrant community and black and brown laborers. It has to stop.”


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12 responses to “Fed-up Construction Workers Rally in Jersey City”

  1. I am a journeyman Carpenter, experienced, and shop steward, and Scaffold building from jersey city looking forward some day for steady work…

  2. Legal immigrants more than likely Union workers
    Im part of local 79 laborers in New York City I definitely
    Support anyone who is under paid over worked and

  3. This is one lingering problem within fabric of this city Construction community,and has been for year’s, with little change at all,Fat cats have no shame, workers wear the pain, America the thrid world emplore, Employee destroyer!!! Stand up and shout-out for equal and fair pay and true employment!!! Tha bullshit got to end!!

  4. Illegal obviously! As a Local 3 member are union is full of all races and minorities !

  5. I’ve been a member of LIUNA since 1988 n haven’t worked more than 2 steady months since before the pandemic!

  6. Good morning my name is Mr. Selvio Uribe. I have been a union member with the labors international since 1998 2012 they used to be local 21 and then re-emerge to local 325 to 4 we could be stronger I have not been working since because of the construction slowing down. I have lost my book many times because I cannot afford it. I live in the Greenville section where there’s a lot of projects going on and nobody in my neighborhood that I need us has been in any other projects, working people from South Jersey, of course, they have. I believe we need the Matthew back into the system when the Mafia had the labors union I always was busy working my fridge raider was always full. My bills also caught up to date and I did I had to commit any crime to feed my family now is forget about it now I got to get welfare assistance. Can I take care of my family and I cannot depend on the union. They are popping all this shit about these billionaires I would love to see the bank accounts, Mr. Pauly, Mr. Mike, Mr. Cupo sense the feds or international took over is a shame that the neighbors of jersey city are not working on any of the projects in the same neighborhood across the street so all this propaganda is bullshit. I have a kids five grandkids that I can even take them to the corner to buy ice cream or a pizza or two enjoy my family the number one killer by now the united state is the mental health and the stress. We supposed to believe that the Union is going to helpers bullshit. Enjoy your day. If you could help me do you have my number in my email and I’ll step up to poly Cupo and rake in the feds I hope and pray to the mighty bro that you guys call me back or get in contact with me because that is the way I think the family is the way I believe that America does not like

  7. What do you expect when leftist labor unions such as this support Open Borders Joe Biden and millions of unskilled workers come flooding into the country looking for work. Simple economics, they drive down the price of labor and the dolts in union leadership don’t get it. They don’t understand what the policies of the people they back do to their workers. And they don’t understand basic economics. Why would anyone support this dysfunctional union?

  8. I was a window installer on that site as of last Friday until they said we have to let you go. Me and 10 other window guys. It’s not fair now I have to find work. I was non-union but also got treated like trash on that Wave site.

  9. Local 79 member,live in Secaucus but work in NYC.A lot of these new high rises are being built unsafe with unskilled workers.People will support us union workers when something comes crashing down on there heads or the building fails and kills many people.

  10. This is not a right or left wing issue [ take your head out of the sand 🤥🫠🫠], this is a humane issue.- all honest workers deserve dignity, honor and respect!

    The tumultuousness of organize labors against greed/ tricks and abuse, must be brought to Washington…

    My clean LiUNA leaders are doing a great job in representing and mobilizing the voice of the people.

    I’m a Cement and Concrete Worker Local union # 20 and I ALWAYS find joy in supporting the cause of the union.

    Hamilton Pagan
    Liuna Strong 💪🏼🇺🇸

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