By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Ian Williams didn’t call the demonstration outside of the Susquehanna SPCA building site a protest.
The Council Representative for the North Atlantic States Council of Carpenters Local 227 called his sign, an “informational banner.”
He and two other union representatives, Mark Hopper, Wells Bridge and Bob Wilmott, both from the union office in Syracuse, stood in front of the shelter site on Tuesday, July 14, holding a banner that read, “Future Site of a Labor Dispute.”
“We believe that contracts are going to be awarded to a company that pays non-area-standard wages and benefits,” he said. “Our goal here is not to get to the point of a demonstration. We want to reach out to the owners and get a meeting in hopes that they give the project to someone who meets area standards.”
The rumored company, he said, was All Wall Builders out of East Syracuse. “If they receive the bid, we will come out in numbers and march in front of the project,” he said.
According to the state labor department, “prevailing wage” is $30.05 per hour for carpenters, floor coverers, carpet layers, dry-wall and lather.
“We don’t know the budget, but this is a negotiating process,” said Williams. “Now we’re hoping to get a phone call and set up a meeting to discuss how we can get the bid to a company that meets area standards.”
But Mark Lane, CEO, William H. Lane Incorporated, said that no bids have been awarded yet for the carpentry portion of the project.
“I think it’s a little premature to put out an informational sign about something that isn’t an issue yet,” he said. “We’ve awarded contracts to plumbers and electricians, but not carpenters.”
“Numerous” construction companies sent in bids for the project, he said, but Lane is still in the process of reviewing them.
He also said that because the project was not a government project, they were not subject to prevailing wage law. “We will give the project to the lowest responsible bidder,” he said.
When he was alerted about the demonstration on Tuesday, Lane said that he reached out to Local 227 and left a message, but had not yet heard back.
“We’re not here to cause friction,” said Williams. “We just want to express our concerns, before the contracts are awarded.”
The shelter, which started work earlier this spring, is anticipated to be completed by next spring. “I stand behind labor unions very much,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director, SQSPCA. “I appreciate what they’re doing, bringing this to my attention.”
Haynes hired Lane to manage the project, including reviewing and awarding all construction bids. “I haven’t been a part of that,” said Haynes. “We have a budget, and we trust and believe that Lane has a proven record. We believe they’ve done the best they can in order to build us a safer and healthier shelter.”
She echoed Lane’s desire to have a conversation. “This gives us an opportunity to ask what more we can do,” she said.