LIUNA holds huge rally blasting worker exploitation at One Journal Square in Jersey City


The Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) held a massive rally blasting worker exploitation at One Journal Square in Jersey City early this afternoon.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

The protest was at construction site of the site of the nearly $1 billion project owned by Kushner Companies, though the hundreds of workers also targeted Lefrak’s The Wave Development, specifically claiming labor broker Salvador Almonte exploited immigrant workers.

Almonte pleaded guilty to second-degree insurance fraud and fraudulent practices violating Workers’ Compensation laws in New York at the end of last month after being indicted in September 2019.

“An injury to one is an injury to all!” LIUNA Eastern Region Chief of Staff Bernard Callegari exclaimed.

According to LIUNA, workers were denied the pay they earned, a safe workplace, and faced constant employer intimidation. They also estimated about 500 members were in attendance.

He noted that many locals from New Jersey, New York City, and even Delaware were present, leading to the massive crowd in Journal Square by the PATH station.

“The developers of Jersey City have waged war against the working people of this state. It’s time to fight back!” Callegari shouted.

“What happens in one city or state affects us all. LIUNA has fought the fight for every mankind,” LIUNA Local 77 Business Manager Carl Styles argued, citing their propensity to hire minority workers.

“We’re here to end economic racism. We’re here to end exploitation. In the State of New Jersey, this is not tolerated. Together we win! We must fight back! Where we go, we’re fighting back!”

“The developers in Jersey City are waging war against the workers,” Callegari reiterated.

He also claimed that workers’ wages have been withheld, a form of wage theft, at the Wave building, which is located at 30 Park Lane North.

“Some of these workers haven’t been paid in weeks,” he stated.

Luis Gomez translated for Geraldo Garcia, said in Spanish that he wanted to claim his rights after being a victim of wage theft.

Concrete Rising arbitrarily deducted money from his paycheck he alleged, indicating that the foreman always said it would be fixed next week, though that never came to be.

He also said that they are not allowed many breaks, even for lunch. Garcia was not paid for working through lunch, all the while working conditions were also very dangerous.

“If we don’t have justice, no peace!” Gomez exclaimed in Spanish.

“This is not our father’s union. We’ve come a long way, brothers and sisters,” Callegari chimed in, adding that he wanted to end the exploitation of undocumented workers.

Callegari also shouted out Craig Guy, the chief of staff to Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise who is heavily favored to succeed him.

“We know if we have an issue and knock on his door, he’ll be there for us: All these workers have families to feed,” he said.

Another worker named Luis explained he worked in dangerous conditions with few safety precautions. At the job site, the foreman yelled at them and called them criminals, also allegedly withholding the money for two to three hours of work in each paycheck.

Luis explained that a worker was badly hurt on the site and brought down in a garbage bin by a crane, which alarmed the other workers. He also said the foreman drank and used drugs.

“Freddy! Shame on you!” the crowd yelled.

“This is the line we are drawing in New Jersey to let them know we’re coming. We’re coming to take back what the enemy has taken,” Callegari said.

He instructed them to take out their phones and text a number to sign up to picket other Kushner buildings in the city.

“We’re going to call in all the troops! By any means necessary,” Callegari exclaimed.

“Jersey City was once a union town. We have seen our wages decrease … Billionaire developers refuse to pay us what we’re worth,” LIUNA Local 3 Business Manager Paul Roldan explained.

“We will not let Jersey City be a place where immigrant workers are exploited. We will fight for each and every one of them. We demand election officials … do more to stop the actions of greedy developers. We will keep fighting ’til Jersey City is a union-friendly town again.”

Roldan also said “we will not rest ’til justice is served” and was adamant that his union brothers and sisters won’t back down.

“If you’re a developer, we’re coming. We are creating history,” Callegari added.

“We take great pride in our job sites and the teams that work on them. We have no direct connection to the company in question, which was a subcontractor of a subcontractor, and is no longer involved with this project,” a LeFrak spokesperson said late this afternoon.

Kushner Companies could be immediately reached for comment on Monday.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from the LeFrak Organization.

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