Yesterday morning a giant inflatable rat appeared in front of 1-19 East 2nd Street, an apartment complex for NYU students. The rat is a mainstay in union protests, set up outside any business accused of hiring non-union workers or unfairly treating its employees.
This time, it is Ryan Freedman, CEO and chairman of Corigin Real Estate Group, who has provoked the ire of local union organizers. Dennis Lee, an organizer with Local 79 of the Laborers International Union, claims that Freedman’s company is using unskilled workers at a development on the Upper East Side, which, in Lee’s view, increases the possibility that workers on the site are being exploited and underpaid.
Lee tells the Voice that “we just want him to pay a living wage.”
Corigin Real Estate Group is the largest holder of NYU student housing rental properties, totaling 710 units for 2,400 students. Freedman has been at the helm of the company since it spun off from Coalco New York in 2010.
At this writing Corigin Real Estate Group has not responded to repeated requests for comment. It also appears that Freedman has kept mum when Local 79 has tried to contact him.
“We’ve made several phone calls, he hasn’t returned any of mine,” Lee says. “We’re in our second week. We’re trying to be civil about it, hand out flyers, do it quietly, and give him a chance to respond.”