More than 30 angry construction workers rallied at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, the latest in a series of recent protests against developer Bruce Ratner for failing to hire more locals.
The protest march from Myrtle Avenue in Downtown to the under-construction basketball arena at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues is the second rally in a month, and featured workers demanding jobs that they say Ratner promised in exchange for union support for the $5-billion mega-project.
“We want jobs for the people that supported the project,” said Martin Allen, the president of People for Political and Economic Empowerment, a group that helps unemployed people find work. “Ratner promised he would give us jobs.”
The developer’s spokesman said that there are jobs — 636 of them, to be exact — at the arena right now. And 229 of those slots are filled by Brooklynites, said the spokesman, Brian Moriarty.
All are union positions.
Ratner once promised that the entire 22-acre project would create 1,500 jobs per year over the 10-year buildout, but the mega-development is currently on hold except for the arena and a residential tower on Dean Street that Ratner hopes to begin this week.
As such, some union men are impatient.
“We were depending on this work,” said Malik Lyons, a member of Local 79, one of the many labor unions that supported the project on the promise of jobs. Ratner, he added, “went back on his word.”
Sekou Troutman, a Bedford-Stuyvesant construction worker who protested on Wednesday, said he applied for a job with the developer in January, but never received a reply.
“We just need what’s rightfully ours,” Troutman said.
The 368-unit Dean Street tower promises new work, but Ratner is considering a prefabricated design that would eliminate hundreds of jobs, union officials said.
©2011 Community News Group
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