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Despite Promises, Apprenticeship Program Produces Only 15 Jobs at Atlantic Yards

James Caldwell, president of a community organization partnered with developer Forest City Ratner, defends record of employment creation.

The president of a community group being sued for not producing Atlantic Yards jobs promised after an unpaid apprenticeship program defended his organization, saying that while the construction jobs didn’t come through, his group has put more than 400 people to work. 

His comments come in response to a report today in the Brooklyn Paper that BUILD, a community group created to work with Forest City Ratner to provide local workers with Atlantic Yards jobs, has secured only 15 jobs at the site so far.

Last month,  against Forest City Ratner and BUILD (aka Brooklyn United for Innovated Local Development), arguing that Ratner failed to deliver on promises of union cards and jobs on the Atlantic Yards site after they completed an unpaid apprenticeship program.  

But in an interview this afternoon, BUILD president James Caldwell, defended his record, saying that the 400-plus jobs he’s found in such areas as building maintenance and retail may be lower paying, but some (such as maintenance and porter positions) do have unions of their own and nearly all have the advantage of being permanent.

Caldwell started working with Ratner to place workers in non-construction positions after the economy failed and building at the site slowed.  

 “There’s more stability as opposed to being on the union job, so I started putting all my energy into getting them the permanent jobs,” Caldwell said, adding that about a third of the 400 jobs have come through leads provided by Ratner.

Forest City Ratner and BUILD , to train residents for jobs at the Atlantic Yards site. Since then BUILD has been a strong supporter of the project, with workers often showing up at rallies wearing hard hats.

Over the years Ratner has been a strong financial supporter of BUILD, with 77 percent of the group’s operating costs coming through the developer this year, Caldwell confirmed today.

According to IRS documents obtained by Atlantic Yards Report and the Brooklyn Paper, BUILD’s operating budget rose by almost $90,000 between 2007 and 2009.

Ekayani Chamberlin December 02, 2011 at 04:37 PM
who do we listen to? The workers who are experiencing the reality or the fat cats running the show? Anyone can make anything look good on paper. Ratner- you are still a rat in my book.
Gib Veconi December 02, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Mr. Caldwell is to be commended for finding work for unemployed members of the community. However, it must be noted that placing people in building maintenance jobs didn't require a Community Benefit Agreement with Forest City Ratner, just as delivering affordable housing wouldn't have required building an arena. The individuals who bear true responsibility for the disappointments at Atlantic Yards are Mayor Bloomberg and Governors Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson and Cuomo.
Norman Oder December 03, 2011 at 03:06 PM
The headline here is misleading: "Despite Promises, Apprenticeship Program Produces Only 15 Jobs at Atlantic Yards." BUILD has referred people to jobs at Atlantic Yards, but the apprenticeship program required by the Community Benefits Agreement, which enrolled 36 people, has gotten perhaps one or two of them jobs at Atlantic Yards, among 19 total placements.

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