When Donald Trump began to pursue plans to build Trump Tower, he first had to destroy the department store that stood in the spot he intended to build upon.
In order to move forward with his construction plans,Trump hired immigrants to do the difficult labor in his stead. Polish immigrants were paid only four dollars an hour to demolish the department store. According to a report by The New York Times, the poorly compensated immigrants were forced to work for upwards of 16 hours a day as they worked to demolish the building.
They worked without proper equipment, such as gloves, masks, or hard hats, which would have been essential at the time to protect the workers’ own health and safety, in 1980 as they demolished the Bonwit Teller Building.
One immigrant, named Wojciech Kozak, who had worked for Trump, recalled the horrible conditions, saying:
‘We were working 12, 16 hours a day and were paid $4 an hour. Because I worked with an acetylene torch, I got $5 an hour. We worked without masks. Nobody knew what asbestos was. I was an immigrant. I worked very hard.’
Wojciech is now in his mid seventies. At one point, Trump is said to have threatened to call Immigration and Naturalization Service the and have the workers deported back to Poland.
Trump has claimed that he does not settle lawsuits, although records dispute those claims. Trump paid a settlement of 1.375 million dollars in 1998 to compensate the workers for the fact that he had taken advantage of then nearly 20 years prior.
The court documents that prove Trump paid up, which had been under lock and key for nearly 20 years, were only recently released in the past week.
It was Loretta Preska who decided that the public had the right to know the truth behind Trump’s settlement. The judge ruled in favor of the motion, and the documents were released last week.
Trump claimed that he was unaware of the fact that undocumented immigrants were working for him to demolish the building, although the claim is disputed by Zbignew Goryn, who recalled that Trump said “Those Polish guys are good, hard workers,” when he visited the work site.
Despite the many injustices that went into building it, Trump Tower still stands.
Featured image via Getty Images