Magic Johnson in Foul Trouble at 20 Henry

As we’ve previously noted, the conversion of the “Candy Factory” building at 20 Henry Street to luxury condos, being done on behalf of Canyon Johnson Urban Funds, a developer controlled by basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, has been picketed by the Carpenters’ Union and taken to task by City Council Member Steve Levin for using a contractor, Leviathan Construction Management, that Levin alleged was “irresponsible” about safety. In the latest development, Leviathan is being sued by other unions that allege it is nothing but a sham entity set up by a big construction company to avoid union contracts.

New York Observer: Now it appears that labor unions are alleging that Leviathan is not even a legitimate company. In a suit filed in Westchester County Bankruptcy Court, the Mason Tenders District Council and Metallic Lathers Local 46 are claiming that Leviathan is dummy corporation set up by a company called HRH Construction that allowed HRH to avoid using union labor and assuming the costs of union fees and benefits. In an ironic twist, they are pursuing the company under RICO laws, the same sort that weakened the mob-connected unions in the 1980s and ’90s.

Whether this results in any delay in work on 20 Henry remains to be seen.

Share this Story:

, , , , , ,

  • Elmer Fudd

    Whether you like unions or not, this sort of scam endangers the lives of the workers, and the public.

    Way to go Steve Levin.

  • EHinBH

    Politics and unions…. What a sad waste. Leave this developer alone already. The allegations are total BS.

  • Eddyenergizer

    “The allegations are total BS” really? Do you have some inside info you would like to share?

  • Knight

    Earvin Johnson was truly Magic on the basketball court in the 1980s, but Google him and read about his business dealings and the magic fizzles. As a businessman, he has used his Magic name to take advantage of a lot of unsuspecting people … mostly poor black people, just like he was himself when he was growing up. I have no respect for him anymore.

  • EHinBH

    Down with the unions. That’s all there is to say. This is not a coal mine…

  • Eddyenergizer

    Oh so you don’t have anything more to say than a hollow platitude.

  • JM

    “down with unions’?
    Perhaps EHinBH would like to give up weekends, 5 day / 40 hour work weeks, child labor laws, workplace safety standards,
    to mention only a few of the things the union movement gave this country and which EH benefits from.

  • E

    To be honest, there’s not a whole lot of unions outside nyc. I grew up in an area that had very few, so to me they seem like they only add to the cost of living in nyc. My father in law belongs to a union and when i talk to him about it he says he goes to meetings and it’s embarrassing(the way people act i guess). The problem as I see it is that a long time ago unions were needed because Henry Ford and pals would pay a nickel for a days wage to 8 year olds with no benefits etc. Which admittedly is a good thing, and it took unions to stop that. But it’s not like that anymore, and many unions have abused their acquired bargaining position to attain ridiculous benefits for their workers (in their defense, arguably to make up for health costs the government has yet to do something substantial about) and it has thrown off the natural supply and demand wage rate for jobs that shouldn’t really be that expensive to hire. Also, there is a prime history of organized crime associated with unions. That doesn’t mean all unions are mobbed up, but it’s quite easy as an outsider to see how the 2 could find each other so attractive and its hard for me to give the benefit of the doubt to one union over another when i read about the bad apples all the time. Also, two weeks ago, I witnessed 100+ workers from the freaking carpenters union block all traffic in Manhattan down 36th street (3 avenues worth) and started chucking slurpees and soft drinks into a construction site across the street during broad daylight, and started trying to tear down the fence to the site and would have broken it down and wrecked the place had a ton of police not showed up. It was chaos. So its hard for me to see their point of view on this story.

  • Gerry

    I am shocked. To think this safety issue is here in Brooklyn Heights around all of this sohisticated white folk is outrageous I mean really now! This stinks!

    As for unions labor in America never recovered from President Ronald Regan telling the Air Traffic Controllers to go jump in a lake that was 1980 and the begining of the end of organized labor in our county.

    Now unions all of them are being asked for give-backs even the CSEA, the UFT and they balk at the request.

    Something has gotta give…

  • Knight

    There’s not a whole lot of unions outside of NYC? Really, E? America’s strongest union is in Detroit (United Auto Workers). Police officers, firefighters, teachers, pilots, and government workers across the country are all unionized. Plus at least half of Europe belongs to a union! Laborers, tradesmen, even waiters have strong unions that fight for their rights. Remember Poland’s Lech Walesa? He was a union leader! Any place where workers have been abused and needed to stick together to overcome the abuse, you’ll find a union. Norma Rae was not a New Yorker!

  • E

    Knight, I certainly agree that unions are an excellent tool to use to overcome worker abuse. But really, in terms of American unions, I think the public workers unions you mentioned are largely it outside the city (there are a few others, but those are the main ones present untill you get into the really large cities). There’s not a carpenters union in random city, Kansas. Detroit has unions because they are still there from the factories built around the turn of the century when unions were needed to give voice to the horrible conditions there. Police and Firefighters, aren’t allowed to strike, so those unions bargaining power is kept in check by both the noble nature of the job(less wage for public service) and the fact that it’s understood by the public (most of the time) that these jobs forgo this typical leverage needed to really run the table when negotiating in the name of the public good. That’s a much different situation than a standard workers union. Also, in response to Europe having unions, I must say that unlike America, most of the countries in Europe were not founded fundamentally on capitalistic principles, and I think it’s also well known that historically they tend to lean much more towards socialistic policies than Americans do. So I’d expect a lot of unions there. On the other side of this coin, it’s also much harder for a person in Europe to ascend to a higher place in the class system, so it’s not all roses exactly when having a greater presence of unions. I find that a lot of unions in NYC have a much better “deal” for themselves than what I would value them having otherwise had they had no union where a free market would have it’s way in determining pay scale, but assuming safe conditions/ and basic benefits are legally and adequately enforced. A complex issue, certainly.

  • Knight

    Jeez, E, don’t be so defensive! All I was saying — and in your monologue you confirmed — was that unions are not mostly a NYC concept.

  • nabeguy

    With all the mishegas that’s occurring on Wall Street, I’d argue that we need unions more today. On the other hand, working across the street from the carpenter unions HQ on Houston Street, I’ve known them to be a vociferous bunch of whiners.

  • WillowtownCop

    Just what the neighborhood needs- another condo to warehouse obnoxious yuppies. I wish it were still a candy factory. Then we would have jobs, tax revenue, and candy.

    Would ANYONE vote for more yuppies over more candy? I think not.

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Don’t know if you caught the article in the NYTimes Real Estate section on Sunday but mention of Brooklyn was prominent with respect to new condos. In fact, 75 Clinton (on Montague and Clinton Streets) was specifically mentioned:

    “Several neighborhoods away, in eastern Brooklyn Heights at 75 Clinton Street, is a rare new condo development for the area. The W Development Company is converting a prewar commercial building there into 74 condominiums.

    The building, with a 5,000-square-foot roof deck and the amenities usual to a new building, among them a gym, officially started sales this month. Apartments range in size from studios to three-bedrooms, and in price from $479,000 to $2.05 million.”

    WillowtownCop, how do you like those prices? Can 20 Henry be far behind? Personally, I don’t mind yuppies because they usually bring improved services for the public along with better restaurants. I hope anyway.

    Here is a link to the article in total:

  • Eddyenergizer

    @ E, you are wrong about there not being a carpenters union in Kansas its local 918. Every bit of the United States is covered by a trade union. The reason you may not notice their presence in smaller cities as much as NYC is there is not as much construction in those areas. More specifically of the type of construction union trades build, such as, public works and major commercial projects.

    Indeed, unions are are not perfect but they are necessary for large scale construction. The main reason is construction demands a very dynamic workforce; Example; one day a project might require 10 iron workers 20 carpenters and 40 laborers, the next day it might require 5 iron workers 30 carpenters and 20 laborers. The demands of the project change with every phase of construction. The project manager needs a reliable source of skilled tradespeople that can be called on as needed. How would one be able to obtain those workers without a union hall, Craigslist? Also The union trains its members through an apprenticeship program so when the worker shows up on site they know exactly how to preform their task to an industry standard of quality.

    Sure there are abuses and sometime boorish behavior, but think: Do you want to ride in an elevator that was installed by someone hired off of Craigslist?

  • Topham Beauclerk

    The poorest states are those where unionism is weakest; the richest states are those where unionism is strongest. Enough said.

  • Hicks St Guy

    @E, I think you need to do a little more research before
    making your judgments.