If you happened to be grabbing a burger at , or a latte at on Wednesday, you may have smelled a rat.
Or, in this case, seen a rat. Two, actually.
A pair of 12-foot "union rats," inflatable, red-eyed, big-toothed mice carrying bags of presumably cash, were set up outside the 40 Park luxury development because, as a flier being passed out claims, "Woodmont Properties has hired an inexperienced company to perform deadly asbestos abatement."
Woodmont is one of the partners involved in the 40 Park project. Other partners include Roseland Property Company, the and the Levine family–owners of the former Epstein's Department Store that was knocked down for 40 Park.
A statement from Woodmont notes the protest has nothing to do with anything in Morristown and stands by the qualifications of the company cited in the fliers.
Carlos Ortega, an organizer with Laborers' Eastern Region Organizing Fund, based in Monroe Township, stood in the sub-freezing temperatures while passing out the fliers, saying, "We only want them to do what is right."
The fliers claim a company called Genesis-Citrine–based in Green Brook–has "never before performed an asbestos abatement job in the state of New Jersey.
"Exposure to asbestos causes cancer. One fiber is all it takes," the flier reads. It also includes the names of Eric Witmondt and Stephen Santola, CEO and Vice President of Woodmont Properties, respectively, and a phone number to call. The flier indicates "Laborer's Local 78" as the party responsible for the notice.
A man who answered the phone at Genesis-Citrine–who refused to give his name–said his company had no projects in Morristown.
Christa Segalini, with Beckerman Public Relations, issued a statement on behalf of Woodmont Properties, saying, "This disturbance has absolutely nothing to do with Morristown.
"This is simply an attempt by an out-of-state union local to disrupt a project located in a different part of the state," the statement reads. "The contractor working on that project is highly experienced and qualified."
A picture of a woman named Elizabeth Clancy also is featured prominently on the flier, noting she died at 23 from mesothelioma "caused by exposure to asbestos." The website Mesothelioma Empowerment shows the same photo, stating Clancy was from Houston and died in 1999.