As part of a larger effort to portray itself as a model of safety and responsibility, Gilbane touts its careful selection of subcontractors. “We work hard to put the best teams together for our clients,” the company says on its website, “and that includes having the best subcontracting companies… on site.”1 Gilbane claims that “strong subcontractor relationships… all over the world” has helped it build a reputation for quality work.2
But somehow such efforts to build “the best teams” have not kept Gilbane from working with irresponsible subcontractors on recent projects in New York City. A number of subcontractors working on Gilbane-managed jobsites in NYC not only undermine the family-sustaining wages and benefits that are the industry standard, they also lack state-approved apprenticeship programs which are vital for providing workers with life-saving safety training. Worse, some of the firms have troubling records of workers’ rights violations, including unsafe practices and wage law violations, or workers’ compensation violations.
Some of Gilbane’s irresponsible subcontractors in New York City include:
1. US Crane & Rigging and Auringer Companies: Rampant Worker Exploitation
Gilbane is the general contractor at 200 East 59th Street, a 35-story condominium tower being developed by Macklowe Properties.3 One subcontractor hired to work at 200 East 59th Street is U.S. Crane and Rigging, one firm among a network of several crane, rigging and hoist companies run by Thomas Auringer and family.4
Allegations of Widespread Worker Abuse by Auringer Firms
- Workers at Auringer’s companies have repeatedly reported that they are subjected to rampant exploitation and abuses including wage and hour violations, racism, discrimination, mistreatment, and retaliation by supervisors.5, 6, 7, 8
Lawsuits for Alleged Wage Law Violations by Auringer Firms
- In May 2015, Auringer faced a class action lawsuit from workers who alleged violations of minimum wage and overtime laws. The case was settled with payments totaling $500,000.9 Auringer settled a class action lawsuit regarding similar allegations of wage law violations in 2009.10
Safety Violations, Including in Connection with 2008 Worker Death
- Auringer’s workers also allege repeated safety violations, a lack of proper safety training, and failure to provide workers with safe personal protective equipment, as required by law.11 From 2004 to 2015, Auringer companies have been involved in at least a half dozen major accidents, including crane collapses, cranes tipping over, and a partial building collapse12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and cited for 72 Class 1 (Immediately Hazardous) safety violations amassing over $250,000 in penalties from the NYC Department of Buildings.18 OSHA has levied more than $100,000 in fines against Auringer companies during the same time period.19
- Perhaps the most tragic among these incidents, in February 2008, an elevator technician employed by Auringer firm SSB Hoist was killed “when his head became caught between a hoist car guardrail and a metal plate” at a condominium project in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. OSHA cited the firm for three serious violations in connection with the incident.20
Previous Debarment of Auringer Firm
- Thomas Auringer was previously the President of Cavalier Construction, a company that was debarred from public works projects for five years by the NYS Department of Labor in 2003, after pleading guilty to felony charges of providing false information to the NYC School Construction Authority.21
2. New York Insulation: Repeated Wage Law Violations and Serious Asbestos Safety Risks
Gilbane is the general contractor at 1681 Third Avenue,22 a 23-story condominium tower being developed by Extell Development Company.23 New York Insulation was hired to perform asbestos abatement at the project.24
Repeatedly underpaid workers
June 2015 – New York Insulation and its owner, Anthony Cardinale, were barred from New York State work for another five years after having failed to pay the prevailing wage to workers on six contracts performed from 2006 to 2009.25 The company owed workers over $70,000 in unpaid wages, $52,000 in interest, and $18,000 in civil penalties.26
- 2013 – New York Insulation settled a class action suit that a group of employees brought against the company in 2008 for unpaid wages on public construction projects from 2002 to 2008.27
- May 2012 – New York Insulation pled guilty to paying workers less than the legally-mandated prevailing wage and filing false documents on a public works project.28 New York State debarred New York Insulation and Mr. Cardinale from performing public contracting work for a period of five years.29
- July 2008 – The New York City School Construction Authority debarred New York Insulation from school construction work due to failure to pay the prevailing wage and failure to cooperate with the Office of the Inspector General to resolve the issue.30 In 2012, the SCA again debarred New York Insulation for school construction work for another five years.31
Health & Safety Risks
- New York Insulation has received over 200 New York City and State citations for unsafe asbestos work in the past fifteen years.32
- Workers on their projects report minimal safety precautions, and friable asbestos falling around them “like snow” on at least one project.33 On one site, the company maintained a ”clean” room for safety inspectors, and ran the remainder of the project without appropriate precautions.34
- In 2013, Williamsburg residents filmed workers breaking up what appeared to be asbestos containing tiles on the roof of the Domino Sugar Complex at the time that New York Insulation was performing asbestos remediation there.35 Workers from the site reported that they did not have enough water to drink or use to wet friable asbestos.36
3. Tradeoff Construction Services: Workers Report Unsafe Conditions, Low Pay, and Haphazard Practices
Tradeoff Construction Services is a subcontractor on Gilbane jobsites in New York City.
Hard Work for Low Pay37
- Some Trade Off workers make as little as $15/hour.38
Workers Report that Safety is NOT the Priority at Trade Off
- Trade Off workers report starting without training and working in many specialized fields.39
- They say they are working at heights without adequate fall protection,40 and using dangerous machinery without any preparation.41
- Workers also claim that when they speak up about safety, the firm puts them on “stand by,” with no work or pay.42
4. Structure Tech NY: Serious Recent Safety Violations and 2011 Workers’ Comp. Violations
Gilbane is the general contractor at 1681 Third Avenue,43 a 23-story condominium tower being developed by Extell Development Company.44 The concrete subcontractor at 1681 Third Avenue is Structure Tech NY.45
Seven Serious OSHA Violations in Just Last Three Years
- In the last three years, Structure Tech has been cited by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for six “serious” worker safety violations.46 OSHA defines a violation as “serious” when it involves a hazard that could cause workers “death or serious physical harm.”47
2011 Fine for Nearly Two Year Lapse in Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- In January 2012, Structure Tech was fined $136,000 by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for having failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance for its employees for a nearly two year period from December 2009 to November 2011.48
5. RCI Plumbing: Safety Violations and Wage Law Violation Allegations
RCI Plumbing, Inc. is another irresponsible firm hired to work for Gilbane at 1681 Third Avenue.49
Serious Fall Safety Violations
- Following a January 2016 inspection at a job site in Manhattan, OSHA cited RCI for three serious safety violations carrying initial fines totaling $11,700.50 One of the violations involved a failure to provide sufficient protection against falls.51 (According to OSHA, falls are the leading cause of worker deaths on construction sites.52) RCI is contesting these violations.
Wage Law Violation Allegations
- In 2010, two RCI employees brought a class action suit against the company for allegedly willfully violating federal and state wage laws and failing to pay legally-required overtime pay.53 In 2013, the matter settled for $250,000.54
6. ECD NY Inc.
East Coast Drilling (ECD) NY Inc. is a foundation concrete contractor working at 42 Trinity Place, where Gilbane is the general contractor.55
Threats to Environmental and Community Health
- ECD is accused of illegally dumping construction waste containing hazardous substances at Roberto Clemente Park, which has been closed since 2014. ECD and other contractors are now facing a federal lawsuit filed by NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
- On Monday, November 27th, 2017 ECD was working at Related Companies’ 501 West 18th Street site when it accidentally broke the valve of a four-inch gas pipe, resulting in a major high-pressure gas leak. According to the complaint, an excavator ruptured a high-pressure gasline, resulting in a full stop work order for failure to protect utilities. Firefighters had to evacuate six buildings in the area.
- In 2014 a ECD worker filed a class action lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act for allegedly failing to pay overtime premiums. ECD settled the case in 2015.
- The US Department of Labor found that between February 2013 and March 2015 violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and agreed to pay $7,680 in back wages to a worker.
Damage to Adjacent Property
- During excavation at 36-02 34th Avenue, an adjacent property began to crack, resulting in a partial stop work order that included all excavation. The site is currently under audit due to the undermining of the adjacent building.
7. Park Side Construction
Park Side Construction is a Queens- based concrete contractor owned and operated by the Pugliese family.56 Park Side is currently working at Soho Properties’ 45 Park Place, a 43-story residential tower where Gilbane is the general contractor.57
Worker Death and Troubling Record of Federal Safety Violations
- In September 2014, Park Side employee Rodalfo Vasquez-Galian was killed when a concrete slab fell on top of him while he was working on the foundation of a hotel development project at 326 West 37th St.58 Following an inspection into the incident, OSHA cited Park Side for three serious violations. (According to OSHA’s website, Park Side is contesting these violations.)59
- In the seven months prior to Vasquez-Galian’s death, OSHA had already found serious safety violations during two other inspections at Park Side worksites. A February 2014 inspection at a Brooklyn jobsite led the agency to levy three serious violations against Park Side for inadequately protecting workers from falls and the risk of impalement on protruding rebar.60 And an inspection in May at the very 37th Street project where Vasquez-Galian would later die found a lack of appropriate eye and face protection for workers.61
- In the two years since Vasquez-Galian’s death, OSHA inspectors have found serious health and safety hazards at six additional Park Side jobsites.62 Most recently, following a January 2016 inspection at a project at 215 Chrystie Street in Manhattan, the agency cited Park Side for three repeat violations for failing to properly protect workers from falling from scaffolds and a serious violation related to “fall protection systems criteria and practices.”63
Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Wage Theft
- In October 2015, a group of workers brought a class-action lawsuit against Park Side alleging that the company often illegally shorted employees’ compensation by refusing to pay overtime and failing to pay workers for the total number hours that they had worked. The complaint also alleges that some workers who were terminated never received their final paycheck.64
- Juan Montesdeoca, a 31-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant who is one of the plaintiffs in the suit, told a reporter from the New York Daily News that he confronted Park Side’s owner about not being paid for many of the hours of overtime that he had worked. “He told [me] if I didn’t like the way I was getting paid, I could leave,” Montesdeoca said.65 As of September 13, 2016 the lawsuit was still active.66
Park Side Principal Sentenced to Jail as Part of Mafia Prosecution
- In 1999, Park Side principal Salvatore Pugliese67 and other alleged members of the violent criminal organization, the “Giannini Crew,” were indicted by the US Attorney for the Eastern District on charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and illegal use of a firearm.68
- According to the US Attorney, the Giannini Crew committed “various crimes of violence, including armed robberies of bank employees and employees of other commercial establishments, arson, extortion, and other criminal activity, including gambling, drug trafficking and weapons sales.”69 The US Attorney noted that the Giannini crew utilized force and violence, including murder, to further their aims.70 Pugliese was eventually sentenced to prison for 24 months and three years of supervised release for the charge of “interference of commerce by threat or violence.”71 The federal government dismissed the other counts in his indictment.
4. Complaint, Rosado v. NY Hoist et al, pages 10-12; www.nyccommunityalliance.org/docman/1-explotation-at-every-level-apr-2015/file.html
9. Settlement Agreement, Rosado v. New York Hoist et al, filed 5-27-15.
10. Complaint, Flores v. SSB Hoist; Minute Entry (case settled), Flores v. SSB Hoist
11. www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/construction-workers-protest-wage-theft-poor-working-conditions-pace-university-dorm-job-blog-entry-1.1775609; http://laborpress.org/sectors/building-trades/3646-iron-workers-union-leaders-rally-around-striking-workers; www.laborpress.org/sectors/building-trades/4535-ironworker-walks-off-job-cites-sexual-abuse; www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ex-worker-nyc-housing-claims-wage-theft-harassment-article-1.2385066
18. Auringer, DOB Violations
19. Inspection Detail for Inspection Nos. 939627.015, 313623787, 313236937, 1064033.015, 313999930, 388383.015 OSHA Integrated Management Information System (IMIS).
21. Letter dated July 17, 2003 from Linda Angello, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor, to Super Structure Builders Inc.; Letter dated September 24, 2003 from Diane Wallace Wehner, Legal Assistant II, New York State Department of Labor, to Super Structure Builders Inc.
24. Amended Summons and Complaint, Aguirre and Gonzalez v. Imico Third Avenue, LLC, et al.; New York State Asbestos Reports
25. Stipulation of Settlement, In the Matter of the Complaint against New York Insulation, et al., City of New York Office of the Comptroller; Debarred Employer Details, Employer Name: New York Insulation Inc., New York State Department of Labor
26. Stipulation of Settlement, In the Matter of the Complaint against New York Insulation, et al., City of New York Office of the Comptroller
27. Stipulation to Certify Class, Velez v. Nicks Insulation Corp., et al.; Order Approving Settlement, Velez v. Nicks Insulation Corp.
28. Press Release: “Queens Insulation Company Pleads Guilty to Stiffing Workers Out of More than $30K for Work Performed at Wheatley School,” Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, May 16, 2012.
29. Press Release: “Queens Insulation Company Pleads Guilty to Stiffing Workers Out of More than $30K for Work Performed at Wheatley School,” Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, May 16, 2012.
30. Letter dated July 29, 2008, RE: Prequalification, from Barbara J. Gavosto, Director, Prequalification Unit, New York City School Construction Authority, to Anthony Cardinale, President, New York Insulation, Inc.
31. “Disqualified Suspended Ineligible Firms” – New York City Construction Authority
32. New York State Department of Labor and New York City Department of Environmental Protection files.
35. Sherrell Dorsey, “Neighbors Report That Domino Sugar Compley Workers Are Removing Asbestos Illegally,” inhabitat New York City, April 12, 2013, http://inhabitat.com/nyc/neighbors-claim-domino-sugar-factory-illegally-removing-open-air-asbestos-video/
46. Inspection Detail for Inspection Nos. 1089347.015, 1063090.015, 1010640.015, 1003635.015, 922962.015, OSHA Integrated Management Information System (IMIS).
48. Structure Tech Workers Comp Judgment and Application for Judgment Structure Tech Workers Comp 2011.
53. Complaint, O’Connor v. RCI
54. Settlement, O’Connor v RCI
56. Contractor Details, Park Side Construction, NYC Dept. of Buildings; Entity Information: Park Side Construction Contractors, Inc., NYS Department of State, Division of Corporations, https://appext20.dos.ny.gov/corp_public/CORPSEARCH.ENTITY_INFORMATION?p_nameid=BEC7AD5D3972590A&p_corpid=37D6C5CE3F707C59&p_entity_name=park%20side%20construction&p_name_type=A&p_search_type=BEGINS&p_srch_results_page=0
58. “Concrete Slab Crushes Construction Worker in Midtown Manhattan,” New York Times, September 23, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/nyregion/man-dies-in-construction-accident-in-midtown-manhattan.html
60. Inspection Detail, Inspection No. 960310.015, OSHA IMIS, https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=960310.015. Note that the standards cited include 19260501 B02 I and 19260501 B04 I, which refer to “Duty to have fall protection”; and 19260701 B, which reads “All protruding reinforcing steel, onto and into which employees could fall, shall be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement.”
61. Inspection Detail, Inspection No. 979577.015, OSHA IMIS, https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=979577.015. Note that the standard cited is 1926.102(a)(1), which reads, “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”
62. Inspection Detail for Inspection Nos. 1009139.015, 1013610.015, 1081604.015, 1115492.015, 1118705.015, and 1118813.015, OSHA Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/InspectionNr.html
63. https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=1118813.015 The standards violated in the repeat violations — 19260451 B01, 19260451 E01, and 19260451 G01 VII — all relate to the use of scaffolds. See the standards here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10752
The standard violated in the serious violation was 19260502 I03, which involves “fall protection systems criteria and practices,” as described here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10758
64. Complaint, Bravo, et al. v. Parkside Cosntruction Builders Corp., filed October 7, 2015.
65. Greg B. Smith, “Builders of NYC skyscrapers are cheating laborers out of wages: lawsuit,” New York Daily News, October 14, 2015, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/builders-nyc-skyscrapers-wage-cheating-lawsuit-article-1.2396337
66. Docket Report, Bravo, et al. v. Parkside Cosntruction Builders Corp.
67. Salvatore Pugliese is listed as a principal for Park Side in general contractor Tutor Perini’s list of New York subcontractors: http://gaming.ny.gov/pdf/Redacted_Cordish/VIII%20B/VIII%20B%206/NY%20Subcontractor%20Listing.pdf; Salvatore Pugliese is also listed as a principal of Park Side in a lawsuit brought in 2013 by the New York State Insurance Fund. See Complaint, Commisioners of the State Insurance Fund vs. Pugliese, et al., filed March 26, 2013.
68. US v. Baldassare, See Counts 15 and 16 on page 25.
69. Ibid. See item no. 3 on page 2.
70. Ibid. See item no. 3 on page 2.
71. Westlaw Criminal Records