President Donald Trump hired 200 undocumented Polish immigrants who worked in 12-shifts, without gloves, hard hats or masks while demolishing a New York City building and paid them only four dollars an hour, court documents show. The immigrants were demolishing the Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Avenue, where the 58-story, golden-hued Trump Tower now stands.
The workers and their contractor William Kaszycki sued Trump in 1983. The reason for that were the unfair labor practices. In the end, Trump paid 1.375 million dollars to settle the case. The litigation dragged on for 15 years. The terms of the settlement were secret for almost twenty years, but United States District Court judge for the Southern District, Loretta A. Preska, unsealed them in response to a 2016 motion filed by Time Inc. and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The New York Times reports.
“We worked in horrid, terrible conditions. We were frightened illegal immigrants and did not know enough about our rights,” Wojciech Kozak, one of the undocumented Polish workers at the demolition site, told the Times.
Court testimonies reveal that Trump noticed the undocumented Polish workers when he visited a work-site near Bonwit Teller.
“He liked the way the men were working on 57th Street. Trump said, ‘Those Polish guys are good, hard workers,’” Zbignew Goryn, a foreman at the site, testified.
After that, Trump hired them and the demolition started in January 1980. The workers were breaking concrete floors, ripping out electrical wires, cutting pipes and working in an area filled with dust and asbestos without gloves, hard hats or masks. According to their testimonies, their shifts lasted for 12-16 hours. Smaller group unionized demolition workers were also hired by Trump and they teased the nonunion Polish workers.
After Kaszycki stopped paying the workers, they complained to the attorney John Szabo, who brought the issue to the vice president of Trump Organization, Thomas Macari. Macari started to give them cash so that the work-site doesn’t shut down.
Trump testified that he did not know that there were illegal workers at his demolition site, but Szabo has said that Trump threatened the workers through his lawyer that he would call Immigration and Naturalizaton Service to have them deported. Szabo got the Labor Department to open a wages-and-hours case for the workers which ended up winning them a 254,000 dollars judgement against Kaszycki.
During his presidential campaign, Trump has said many times that he never settled.