by Sandy Eller – VIN News
Management at electronics giant B & H Photo Video are faced with a problem that other companies would kill to have: having to relocate their warehouses because business is booming.
In a letter sent to employees on January 12th, B&H executive Menashe Horowitz announced that the company had outgrown its warehousing facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, despite having added a second facility on Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick several years ago.
According to Horowitz, the company’s several years long search for a larger location has been unsuccessful and instead will be relocating to a facility of more than half a million square feet in Florence Township, New Jersey, approximately 40 miles west of Lakewood.
“We worked closely with New York State government leaders to find a new home here in New York, but unfortunately we were unable to find a facility here that came even close to meeting our needs,” wrote Horowitz. “As many others before us have discovered, large warehouses are not available on the market in NYC due to the booming real estate industry here.”
All 335 B&H Brooklyn employees will be offered employment at the new facility, which according to Horowitz is a 90 minute drive from the store’s existing warehouse. The move is scheduled to take place in stages during the second half of 2017 and Horowitz encouraged employees to consider the possibility of continuing on at the warehouse at its new site.
Workers at B & H joined the United Steelworkers International union in 2015, despite strong opposition from management, reported the Forward.
B & H had been negotiating with the union for more than a year on the first contract for union workers and United Steelworkers spokesperson Wayne Ranick said that he was both disappointed and surprised to hear about the move.
“We had been bargaining in good faith and this came up totally unexpectedly,” said Ranick.
B & H declined an offer by the union to negotiate over the move but said that contract negotiations would continue despite the relocation. Ranick said that the union intends to fight the move.
“We’ll do everything we can to keep representing the best interests,” of the workers, said Ranick. It is unclear if United Steelworkers will continue representing B & H employees once the move takes place.
Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg said that his organization would be doing everything in its powers to assist local residents who are employed at B & H’s Brooklyn warehouses and has already formed a job placement committee.
A federal lawsuit against B & H, that charged the company with discriminating against its Hispanic workers, offering them fewer promotions and forcing them to use separate restrooms will not be impacted by the move, said a B & H spokesperson.
B & H’s lease is set to expire in 2018 and is not being renewed by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. According to DNA Info, the site will be used as a movie studio.