Union Protests Company’s Project
By Luis Gronda
A union in Queens is trying to prevent a construction company from winning the contract for a street project due to what they say is poor job performance and failure to pay their employees money they are owed.
The Laborers Local 1010, headquartered in Flushing, are calling on the City Dept. of Design and Construction to break a potential deal with S & N Builders, a construction company based in Hempstead, Long Island, and seek another bidder on the Safe Routes to Schools project, which aims to renovate streets adjacent to schools to make them safer for children. Three schools are set to be the sites of this project: P.S. 108 in Ozone Park, I.S. 77 in Ridgewood and St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Maspeth.
The reason they want the change, according to representatives from Local 1010, is because S & N has been irresponsible in previous jobs, including failing to meet the performance criteria set by the DDC during a job last year in Manhattan and failing to pay workers they hired from the Local 1010 all the money that they are owed on time.
Lowell Barton, vice president of the union organization, added that this company also does not want to take union workers for this job and that it would be beneficial to the City if DDC hired a company that employs workers that are a part of the union.
"It's a good value when you pay New York City tax dollars to New York City workers," Barton said. "They're going to give it to guys that are non-union and that hurts. That's a shame."
The Local 1010 also wrote letters to Community Boards 5 and 10 asking for their support. They also met with Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) on the matter, who passed on their concerns to City officials.
Salrander Raja, owner of S & N Builders, gave an explanation for Barton's complaints.
He said the reason they did not meet DDC's schedule criteria was because it had to wait until the spring to start construction instead of beginning in the winter. They were close to their schedule once they started, Raja said. He added that he plans to pay the rest of the money that his company owes the local 1010 soon.
Regarding the schools project, Raja said he would likely hire union workers from Local 1010 if S & N is awarded the contract.
"They're good people, I've had a good experience with them in the past," he said.
A DDC spokesman said that the agency has not awarded a contract for this project and it is still reviewing the submissions to determine the lowest responsible bidder.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.