A new classified document sheds light on U.S.president Donald Trump's shady settlement with the undocumented underpaid Polish workers who labored in hazardous conditions to demolish Bonwit Teller and erect the swanky Trump tower that now stands in place.
The settlement is a painful reminder of double standards as Trump has curbed policies that promote immigration and heavily cracked down on undocumented immigrants, but didn't shy away from employing and exploiting undocumented workers.
In 2016, Time Inc. and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a motion for the document and the court proceedings linked to the case be made public considering he was "now-president of the United States."
Katie Townsend, litigation director of the Reporters Committee, told the New York Times, that the decision marked a major victory, "It makes clear that both the First Amendment and common law rights of public access apply to settlement-related documents in class actions," she said.
The 21-page document that was tucked away for nearly 20 years, was unsealed last week by a United States District Court judge for the Southern District, Loretta A. Preska, indicated, "the Trump Parties have failed to identify any interests that can overcome the common law and First Amendment presumptions of access to the four documents at issue."
Trump hired an inexperienced contractor, William Kaszycki of Kaszycki & Sons, who specialized in window and job-site cleaning, for US$775,000. Per the documents, Trump paid US$1.375 million to settle the case, Hardy v. Kaszycki, out of which, US$500,000 went to a union benefit fund while the remaining was used to pay lawyers' fees and expenses.
But during one of the case hearings, Trump testified he didn't know that the workers employed at the site were Polish and undocumented. A foreman on the job, Zbignew Goryn, however, refuted Trump's claim, saying that Trump visited the site, and was well aware of who the workers were.
"He liked the way the men were working on 57th Street," Goryn said. “He said, ‘Those Polish guys are good, hard workers,’" according to New York Times.
In 1998, some Polish workers came forward with their testimonies claiming that they worked in horrific conditions.
75-year old, Wojciech Kozak told the New York Times, "We worked in horrid, terrible conditions. We were frightened illegal immigrants and did not know enough about our rights."
“We were working, 12, 16 hours a day and were paid $4 an hour," he said.
"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," Kozak added.