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
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
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.