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On Tuesday, the Metallic Lathers Union Local 46 and the Mason Tenders District Council, Laborers Union of North America announced a racketeering lawsuit targeting developers in New York City for engaging in a conspiracy to deny $7 million in wages and benefits to union workers. The targets of the lawsuit include Lalezarian Developers, JMH Development and HRH Construction are accused of numerous charges:
from 2007 through 2011 NYC builders Lalezarian Developers and JMH Development conspired with unionized construction manager HRH Construction to knowingly violate the company’s collective bargaining agreements and illegally perform millions of dollars of construction work under the guise of a phony non-union alter-ego firm named Leviathan Construction Management.
As a result of this conspiracy, the developers along with HRH’s principals, cheated workers out of more than seven million in wages and benefits that should have been paid to union members and their funds under HRH’s collective bargaining agreements. If found guilty under federal racketeering law, these developers will be forced to pay triple damages which could total more than $21 million.
This lawsuit may be just the tip of the iceberg:
According to Robert Ledwith, Business Manager of Local 46, “Today NYC unions are sending a strong message to the real estate industry that we are stepping up our efforts to monitor and prosecute illegal behavior that harms working people.” Ledwith added, “We think that this case is merely the tip of the iceberg. We know this kind of illegal activity is widespread throughout our industry.”
Other observers agree with Ledwith that there are likely many more examples of this type of criminal activity and that there will likely be more attempts by unions to fight back on behalf of workers and for what is right. Pursuit of this type of legal route could also have further effects, such as reducing the amount of money that flows from corrupt developers to politicians, potentially helping level the electoral and lobbying playing fields.
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