SEIU protests v. Magic Johnson

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The building service workers union put a full-court press on Magic Johnson Monday, launching a Web site to protest the former NBA basketball star’s use of non-union labor at a Brooklyn condominium building owned by his investment company.

SEIU Local 32BJ unveiled the online site, NoMagicHealthCare.org, to call attention to workers at One Hanson Place. Although they receive prevailing wages and individual health care coverage, they have to pay extra to secure coverage for family members.

The union will shadow Mr. Johnson, who is due in town this week to promote a new book, at various public appearances and post his responses to the question, “Magic, where’s our health care?” in video on the site.

“Although Magic Johnson has spoken out on the need for family health care, he has dropped the ball when it comes to workers at One Hanson Place in the heart of Brooklyn,” said Kyle Bragg, vice president of 32BJ.

Mr. Johnson’s investment company, Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund, partnered with the Dermot Co. to convert the landmark Williamsburgh Saving Bank into luxury condominiums. The building—known for its clock tower— reopened this year, with sales for individual condo units approaching $1 million.

The dozen workers receive individual health care coverage and are paid the union rate of $18.94 for porters and concierges and $20.19 for handymen. But they are being asked to pay $300 per family member for coverage, a benefit unionized luxury residential building workers in the city get as part of their contract.

Prior to One Hanson Place’s conversion, the cleaning and maintenance workers in the building were 32BJ members earning area standard wages and benefits.

A spokesman for Canyon Johnson said the workers are provided fully-paid employer health care and earn competitive wages. He said any decision on expanding coverage is up to the condominium association and the building’s managing agent.

“The story of One Hanson Place is a great story for organized labor,” he said. “Union labor was hired to complete this extensive renovation and we’re proud of that fact.”


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