Brooklyn Folk Aren’t Big Fans of Magic Johnson

by April 02, 2009

by Marcel Mutoni

Magic, as you know, is a wildly successful business man. According to certain Brooklyn residents, however, his companies aren’t exactly the best places to work for and don’t always do what’s ethical.

The Hall of Famer, who made a fortune by setting up shop in low-income areas, is being accused of taking advantage of poor people. The NY Daily News reports:

But in Brooklyn, they’ll be talking about how Johnson is the face of companies that take advantage of working-class families. “It’s a disgrace to see Johnson actively promoting businesses that we believe hurt low-income communities,” said Kyle Bragg, vice president of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, which represents 70,000 New Yorkers.

Johnson’s real estate firm, Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, is one of the companies that converted Brooklyn’s Williamsburgh Savings Bank into a luxury condo building. Local 32BJ officials said more than 90% of city luxury buildings hire union doormen, porters and gardeners, but Johnson and his partners in the building – rechristened One Hanson Place – have resisted efforts to unionize staff at the iconic building. One Hanson Place workers have to pay $360 a month for health care for each member of their family; they are also not offered pensions, job training and other benefits offered to union workers.

Johnson may be celebrated this weekend in Detroit, but his business ties have fans fuming in Brooklyn. “Magic Johnson should be ashamed of himself,” City Councilwoman Letitia James said at a demonstration organized by Local 32BJ at a Manhattan Jackson Hewitt location earlier this week. “There is nothing magic about what he does. What he does is prey upon poor people.”

Magic has yet to address the allegations, and one of his spokespeople declined to comment.