Intern labor makes the word go round, and though you may not have to pay them, bones (college credit, coffee mugs, a Koosh ball that may or may not have been tossed by Rosie O'Donnell in 1998) must be thrown their way. However, according to a lawsuit filed by six "demolition interns" against Forest City Ratner, the developer promised them jobs and union cards for their participation in a 15-week "apprenticeship course" on their Atlantic Yards project, but they ended up with nothing. "What they did was wrong and misleading," one of the apprentices tells the Brooklyn Paper. Beware of an internship that's shorter than a semester!
The lawsuit alleges that Forest City Ratner "pledged in writing" and "again as a verbal promise at a meeting" held with the Brooklyn community group, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, that the jobs would be there for the apprentices. A spokesman for FCR said that of the 779 workers on site, 22% of them are from Brooklyn. "Forest City Ratner did not promise union cards, nor was it ever in a position to do so," he says.
When pitching the project to organized labor, the developer initially promised 1,500 jobs comprised of 100% union workers. "This was the biggest bait-and-switch in the history of Brooklyn," councilwoman Letitia James says. Some of the apprentices even quit their jobs for the training program, which ended up being off-site demolition work in Staten Island. If Ratner didn't want to piss off the neighborhood, they could have at least had them on rat-removal duty.