activism

O’hara Rally calls on Chapel Harbor luxury developers to stop wage theft

(Photo Caption: Workers and organizers held up signs opposing wage theft at Chapel Harbor. (Photo: Matthew Bauer)

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A large banner was held up at the demonstration (Photo: Matthew Bauer)

By Krystle M. Knight

Pittsburgh, PA – At 11:00 AM on Saturday, April 14th, immigrant workers and their supporters held a demonstration outside of Chapel Harbor at the Water in O’Hara Township to show support for five roofers who worked on the development’s newest high-end luxury home properties last July, and have yet to be paid. The homes were developed by Stapleton Homes Inc., which currently owns the properties, and they are being marketed by Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. The five workers are owed approximately $5,000 for roofing work completed during the summer heat. Stapleton Homes Inc. is owned by Kenneth R. Kane and Jay R. Richards.

Unfortunately, wage theft is common in the construction industry, particularly among immigrant workers. Large corporations often avoid direct responsibility through subcontracting.

The workers continue to demand their stolen wages with the support of the Wage Justice Coalition, a local labor and community coalition that includes the Thomas Merton Center, the Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC), the Pittsburgh chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and the Pittsburgh pre-chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).

“We want Stapleton Homes to know that their business model, which is built on cheating working people of their hard-earned wages, is immoral and unacceptable. It’s time they did the right thing and paid these workers,” says Guillermo Perez of Pittsburgh LCLAA. “We’ve spent more than a month trying to get Kenneth Kane and Jay Richards, the co-presidents of Stapleton, to pay these folks but they refuse to take responsibility,” adds Krystle Knight of the Merton Center. “The workers who provided many hours of labor improved the value of this luxury waterfront property and take pride in the arduous work they do to provide for their families. It is time we show these luxury real estate developers that their poor corporate citizenship is not just bad for business; it’s bad for the community and the workers.”

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“I am demanding that the company pay us. Not only do you expose yourself to the sun, it is dangerous to be up [on the roof]. One suffers from thirst, heat, and hunger up there. And it is unfair that they have not given us our money.” – Gladys L. Translation was provided by Monica Ruiz. (Photo: Matthew Bauer)

Krystle Knight is the Community Organizer at the Thomas Merton Center.

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