The Slatest

Here’s the Deal With the Polish-Worker Lawsuit Against Trump That Rubio Keeps Mentioning

Marco Rubio has mentioned a lawsuit that Polish workers filed against Donald Trump several times tonight at tonight’s Republican presidential debate in Houston. “You’re only person on this stage that’s ever been find for hiring people to work on your projects illegally,” Rubio said to Trump. “You hired some … He hired workers from Poland … People can look it up. I’m sure people are Googling right now. Polish workers. Fined $1 million for hiring Polish workers on one of his projects.”

Later on: “If he builds the wall the way he built Trump Towers, he’ll be using illegal immigrant labor to do it … It’s not a sound bite. It’s a fact. Again, go online and Google it. Donald Trump, Polish workers.” 

And then a third time, after Rubio had been accused of lying: “You [i.e. Trump] lied about the Polish workers.”  

Rubio really wants us to Google these Polish workers! So we did. Here’s the deal: 200 undocumented Polish workers sued Trump for, they said, cheating them out of wages and benefits when they were working on Trump Towers in 1980. From a 1998 New York Times piece:

But after almost two decades, the demolition workers are still struggling to compel Mr. Trump and his business associates to compensate a union’s welfare funds and thus increase pension and medical benefits for some of the Polish workers.

Mr. Kozak is now a party and witness in a class-action lawsuit that has meandered through the Federal courts for 15 years and charges that Mr. Trump owes $4 million to the union welfare funds for the work the Poles performed. Filed in 1983, the suit has been bogged down by a torrent of motions and appeals of judicial decisions and by the deaths of a judge, a lawyer, the original lead plaintiffs, an important witness and two of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants.

Trump denied that he knew about conditions at the worksite. The $1 million figure Rubio cited may have been extrapolated from a judge’s 1991 ruling that Trump and his partners owed “$325,415 plus interest,” which a plaintiffs’ lawyer at a later point said could add up to $4 million (as the Times article says). But that ruling was appealed and the case was ultimately settled in 1999; details of the settlment weren’t disclosed.