NYC Construction Strike Halts Work at Freedom Tower

Construction stopped at the World Trade Center site and hundreds of other projects in the city Wednesday after a walkout by heavy equipment operators.

"All major work sites are shut down," said Chris Ward, managing director of the General Contractors Association of Greater New York, which represents a large number of the city's contractors.

The contractors association's contract with the International Union of Operating Engineers expired at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Depending on holiday work schedules, Wednesday was the third day that work was stopped on some projects, Ward said.

Ward estimated more than 1,000 sites were affected, 90 percent of them public projects.

Among them were the foundation work on the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower and the $2.2 billion transit hub being built at the trade center site.

Officials for the union representing the more than 3,000 heavy equipment operators on strike didn't return telephone calls Wednesday. The union represents operators of cranes, drilling rigs and backhoes who earn between $73 and $82 an hour.

Last week, the union rejected a contract that offered workers 6 percent increases for each of the next five years, in exchange for agreements to be retrained for new responsibilities.

No new talks are scheduled, Ward said.