A Cautionary Tale in Brooklyn

A tip of our hat to Nicole Gelinas of the City Journal for her article that tells the story of seven people who according to their complaint just filed in court againt the Atlantic Yards management, bought into promises of good jobs in exchange for supporting that redevelopment project. Nicole Gelinas, The Ratner Seven, City Journal, November 18, 2011 — click here. But guess what? They allege that they were duped

“. . . into joining a “training” class last year that consisted of reading Wikipedia printouts and then working—unpaid and unsupervised—for two months on a dangerous Staten Island home-construction site owned by a third party. During their ‘training,’ the seven ‘learned very little that they did not already know,’ they said, because they were ‘already fully capable of performing construction work.’ One man had previously worked as a carpenter; another had ‘extensive experience’ and had once supervised 100 people on a worksite; a third had worked as an electrician’s apprentice. Two others quit jobs to enroll in Ratner’s ‘training,’ while another turned down a maintenance job. The seven plaintiffs toiled unpaid because, they say, Ratner’s surrogates promised them trade-union memberships, a pathway to good jobs building Atlantic Yards. Caldwell, whose BUILD salary was funded by Ratner, told them that they should ‘prepare to be millionaires,’ they say. They got nothing. ‘None of the Plaintiffs has received an offer of employment in a construction job’ at Atlantic Yards, according to their suit.”

Bottom line: when redevelopment promoters promise to bake a bigger economic pie for all to share, it may just be that what they are really promising is pie in the sky. So let’s stay tuned on that one and see how it turns out.