“This is a conflict between the construction trade unions and Mr. Forkosh, who is using non-union labor; NYU is merely being used as a political football in this contest.
“When New York University develops its own properties, it always requires its contractors to use union labor. In 1999 alone the University put out 70 construction contracts with a value of $150 million; these construction contracts created some 2,000 jobs each and every one was a union job.
“The University does not own the former Sahara Hotel property; the University is not developing it; the University is not building it; this building is not being built for the University. We have a contract to lease the building from Mr. Forkosh.
“When we signed the lease we assumed that Mr. Forkosh would use union labor. Virtually every major building in New York City is built with union labor; it is exceedingly rare that they are not. It never came into our mind that he might use non-union labor. We have said publicly and to him on several occasions that we are distressed that he is using non-union labor and that we want him to do it the NYU way: using union labor.
“But Mr. Forkosh is not building this building for New York University. He is constructing a building, and we have signed a contract to rent it from him for up to ten years. The University will be a tenant, and I think any reasonable New Yorker will understand that, as a tenant, our power to insist on how Mr. Forkosh should construct the building is limited, particularly in a real estate market as tight as this one. Even if we were inclined to break our signed contract with Mr. Forkosh, he would be able to fill these apartments in a New York minute; therefore, what kind of leverage could we really bring to bear in these circumstances, beyond the many attempts we have already made to persuade him to use union labor.
“NYU has a mix of student residences: some we built, some we bought, some we rent. This was the first time we leased a building that had yet to be developed, so there was simply no precedent. But as a result of this episode, we have set in place a policy that in the future the University will not enter into leases for properties being developed with non-union labor.
“In any case, these parties should solve the dispute between themselves and stop trying to drag NYU into the middle.”
For further comment about this matter and Forkosh Construction, reporters should contact Jim Capalino, Mr. Forkosh’s spokesman, at 824-3010.