New York Daily News

Working Papers
Deal Sealed in Trump Tower Suit

Monday, March 08, 1999

Twenty years after a squad of nonunion Polish demolition workers cleared the way for Trump Tower by tearing down the old Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Ave., Donald Trump has quietly settled a lawsuit brought on their behalf.

The lawsuit against Trump was filed in 1983 by a crusty ex boxer and dissident member of the housewreckers union named Harry Diduck.

It was Diduck's claim that Trump had cheated Laborers Local 95 out of at least $300,000 in contributions to its benefit funds by secretly employing the nonunion workers.

The workers, many of them undocumented immigrants, sweated through round-the-clock shifts and some even slept on the floors of the building they were demolishing. They were promised $4 to $5 an hour, but many were stiffed for even those low wages.

Trump dismissed the charges, saying any violations were the fault of an inept demolition contractor whom he later fired.

But Diduck, the unlikeliest foe for the glamorous real estate tycoon, stuck to his guns and so did his lawyers, the late Burt Hall, a prominent labor lawyer and his partner, Wendy Sloan.

After a trial in 1991, federal Judge Charles Stewart ruled that the Trump Organization and its partner, Equitable Life Assurance Society, conspired with a former union leader to withhold $325,000 in benefit payments plus interest - adding up to about $4 million.

An appeals court ordered the case retried and that is where it was headed until last month's settlement agreement, which was placed under seal.

Neither side would give specifics.

"It has been resolved on terms agreeable to both sides," said Sloan who was joined by lawyer Lewis Steel.

Diduck died in 1992. "He never stood to make a nickel," Sloan said. "The money was to go to the [union] funds."

"Thanks to courageous rank-and-file dissidents like Harry, justice is finally catching up to Trump Tower," said James McNamara of the Association for Union Democracy.

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