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Will somebody please take Steve Levin’s petitions?

The Brooklyn Paper
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Councilman Steve Levin should have worn his running shoes to work on Tuesday — because he spent part of the afternoon chasing around the managers of a luxury condo building that recently fired two workers who claim they were just trying to form a union.

The labor-loving pol Williamsburg Democrat headed to 184 Kent Ave. with a fistful of petitions demanding the rehiring of the workers, Penil Martinez and Jose Guzman, but ended up being shooed away by burly security guards and given the brush off by the building’s property manager, who scurried past Levin into her office.

Even the concierge stayed the councilman from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.

“I would like to hand this to you, you don’t have to say anything,” Levin said as he chased building manager Stacey Ferraro up a flight of stairs to her office before she shut the door in his face. “I request that you rehire the workers of this building.”

Six weeks ago, Martinez and Guzman were fired for trying to organize a union among the building’s workers — an irony, considering that other buildings along the Williamsburg waterfront employ union workers in order to gain incentives for affordable housing.

But those incentives did not apply to 184 Kent, which is a renovation of the old Austin Nichols warehouse.

The SEIU union tried to negotiate a settlement with the building’s owners, but when talks went nowhere, the union reached out to Levin to ratchet up pressure. Levin attempted to hand over a stack of signatures to building staff three times before finally dropping it off at the front desk as security led him and a crowd of union supporters out of the lobby.

“[Ferraro] doesn’t want you here,” said a security guard. “You’re trespassing.”

But Levin wouldn’t leave without delivering a parting shot of his own, in which he promised the developers would face “reckoning.”

“This is not a gray issue here,” said Levin. “There’s a right and a wrong. What’s right is that these men should be reinstated to their building and the developers should offer fair and decent wages and health care. What [the developers] decided to do is say the standards do not apply to them and that is unjust.”

The firing left Guzman facing eviction from his own apartment, and Martinez struggling to find new work again in a difficult economy.

“I was doing a good job, but firing me for supporting a union is unjust,” said Guzman. “I will fight as much as I can on this.”

A representative for the developer refused to comment for this story.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

jordanrow from california says:


Health care (transformation) is one of the best issues this current administration has done thus far. With this change individuals will have the opportunity to seek professional and quality health care services. Who would want to return to the days of the horse and buggy, b/w tv sets, manual typewriters, pac man, you get the point? That's about how old the health care system was in the USA. Each day the news is filled with social tragedies in which lives are taken at the hands of known acquaintences and/or family members. Our society is stricken with the institutions of white collar crime permeating throughout this great nation and greed which tends to strike at the very fabric of our country. If you are looking for affordable health insurance check out http://bit.ly/chE6zp . I hope everyone will soon recognize and use the resources made by this transformation to seek professional medical attention as the need arises rather than turning to illegal and criminal activities to resolve their issues.
July 21, 2010, 1:14 am
TeoNYC from Williamsburg says:
184 Kent is a rental, not Condo, and as such the petitioners really have no sway with the management of the building. It is interesting that in my own building, the pay/benefits for the workers pre-union was equal to or better than the union packages they now receive.
July 21, 2010, 9:02 am
Sid from Boerum hill says:
yes Teo that was done to keep the Union out. Most of the time today a company doesn't get a Union unless they deserve it by treating the employees badly. But with a Union there is some added job protection that didn't exist before. I am always amazed that some middle class people are so anti-union. Do you think your employer would give the benefits they do if they weren't afraid of Unions? The Unions in the US made the middle class to a large extent. yes there are Union excesses(like there aren't company ones). Given the last economic crisis in the US you can't blame that on the Unions although the governor of NJ is trying.....
July 21, 2010, 9:31 am
Rebecca from Williamsburg says:
TeoNYC, Sid is right. they got equal or better to keep the union out. you have a weekend because unions fought for days off a long time ago. same with paid holiday and sick days.
July 21, 2010, 10:24 am
Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
Oda Weatherization Assistance
12 Heyward St
Brooklyn NY 11211

718-855-8233
I urge the entire community to contact the The ODA at the above regarding the Weatherization Assistance for over $40Million of grants allocated to the ODA under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Funds are provided to reduce the energy expenditures of households by coconducted instrumented energy audits and installing energy conservation materials such as insulation, weatherstripping and caulk, high-efficiency heating and hot water systems, high-efficiency electrical fixtures and efficient building materials such as windows and doors. ARRA funds are expected to provide energy conservation assistance for more than 45,000 dwelling units.... The above amount should cover almost every dwelling in the Wiliamsburg community with new windows that will save energy and lower heating and cooling bills. the above amount should cover an estimated of over 100,000 windows in the community
July 21, 2010, 1:04 pm
Meir Roth from Brooklyn says:
The owner of 184 Kent Ave is Louis Kestenbaum the Chairman of the ODA who has supported and donated alot of money to steve levine election fund, so this is all Hog Wash
July 21, 2010, 1:08 pm
Jenifer from Northside says:
Steve Levin has the phone number of the owner Louis Kestenbaum the owner of 184 Kent Ave Steven worked hard for him to have this building rezoned
July 21, 2010, 1:45 pm
Dick from former renter in 184 says:
Over 500 people submitted postcards to Landmarks Preservation Commission, more than 350 to Councilmember Yassky, and hundreds more to the City Council in support of the designation of the Austin, Nichols & Co. warehouse as a landmark.
Architectural historians Robert A.M. Stern, Andrew S. Dolkart, Sharon Irish and Sarah Bradford Landau submitted testimony to the Commission in favor of the designation.
July 21, 2010, 2:02 pm
astor says:
This is 184 Kent, the Austin Nichols warehouse building that was the subject of that bitter landmarking fight two year ago in which the building was landmarked and, then, unlandmarked, with Council Member David Yassky helping to lead the anti-landmarking charge. The building will come back to life with 358 apartments, two additional floors, a rooftop pool, a landscaped interior garden and rents of $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment.
July 21, 2010, 2:06 pm
dav from williamsburg says:
Kestenbaum is no longer the owner of 184 Kent. He sold to JMH development.
July 21, 2010, 6:37 pm
Franke Blue from Williamsburg says:
The doormen in the luxury buildings along Bayard Street are working for around $11 an hour.They receive no benefits, no paid holidays, no allowance toward the purchase and cleaning of the suits they are required to wear,no meal allowance if they are forced to work an overtime shift, and, after more than 2 years on the job for some of these men, not even one week paid vacation. Perhaps 32BJ would like to look into those work conditons.
July 25, 2010, 7:41 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
Levin's work on behalf of the workers at 184 Kent Ave is comendable. How can workers still be fired for organizing in this day and age?
July 25, 2010, 7:51 pm
Franke B from Williamsburg says:
Being fired for organizing is illegal.However the penalty is reinstatement of the person's job as well as retroactive pay, minus whatever that person made while waiting to get their job back.So it is worth it for management to try and just get rid of the problem.
July 25, 2010, 8:21 pm
Moses kestenbaum ODA says:
Lady gaga is hot, her ass is huge
Aug. 9, 2013, 5:07 pm

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