Public Advocate Welcomes BUNYC Proposal for New Lists to Complement City’s “Worst Landlord”

It was an offer too good to refuse for New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

“As you have with the annual ‘100 Worst Landlord’ List,” BUNYC Field Coordinator Carole Raftrey asked, “how about creating more lists, like the ‘Top 10 Worst Developers,’ ‘Top 50 Worst General Contractors,’ or to ‘Top 100 Worst Contractors.’ ”

They interacted at a “Talk to Tish” Town Hall that the Public Advocate held in Long Island City Tuesday night at the CUNY Law School to take questions from members of the community. The event was attended by community members and activists in the neighborhood. On stage with Tish James at the event were Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Community Board 2 Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith, Chief Juanita Holmes, the Patrol Borough Queens North Commander, and Capt. Ralph Forgione, 108th Precinct Commanding Officer.

Build Up New York City’s contingent, besides Raftrey, included two other workers, Dorian Diaz and Ismael Arroyo. Raftrey’s question got an enthusiastic response from the Public Advocate.

“I like it. I like it. Yes! Let’s talk about the number of developers who had the highest fatalities, who don’t train their workers or who pay them the lowest wages. Let’s come up with some factors,” James said.

New York City Public Advocate answering a question from Laborer Ismael Arroyo

New York City Public Advocate answering a question from Laborer Ismael Arroyo

The room erupted in applause at Raftrey’s question and the Public Advocate’s response to it.

Arroyo, a laborer, also got strong support from the Public Advocate in response to his question. Arroyo had prefaced his question by informing the Public Advocate that his employers tended to be low-road contractors that did not pay good wages, benefits and did not provide proper training.

“In light of the proposed federal cutbacks in funding for OSHA, what are you going to do to make sure workers like me get paid for the hours we work and, when we work overtime, get paid time and half,” Arroyo asked. “What will you do to make sure that not only are there safety standards, but that they are enforced, that we are not forced to work in unsafe conditions?”

Diaz asked how workers and the public could get quick action when they see or experience dangerous conditions.

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