Conn. Union Rallies Against Harbor Point Developer
The Connecticut Laborers’ District Council says it has begun a campaign against the owner-developer of a $3.5-billion, mixed-use project in Stamford, Conn., for hiring an out-of-state subcontractor. Owner-developer Building and Land Technology (BLT) Inc., which has hired subcontractor Baker Concrete, Monroe, Ohio, to work on its 6-million-sq-ft Harbor Point project, did not return calls for comment by press time.
The union began to picket the site on May 15 and plans to “continue on a weekly basis’ until BLT co-owners Carl and Paul Kuehner “start hiring Connecticut companies and Connecticut workers on this project,” says Charles LeConche, business manager of the district council.
The union wants the owners to only hire union workers and to raise awareness of “the loss of revenue to Connecticut taxpayers” due to out-of-state employees, LeConche says.
LeConche says he hopes to draw support from every contractor on the project and from the Teamsters. He says that contract terms of Teamsters member firm O&G Industries, Torrington, Conn., which is delivering concrete to the site, allow for O&G to avoid crossing demonstration lines at jobsites without penalty. “Once the concrete can’t reach the jobsite, the project will reach a standstill,” LeConche says.
A district council spokesperson says that at least three delivery trucks refused to cross the picket line on May 15.
Meanwhile, Jim Himes, representative of Connecticut’s fourth district, issued a statement supporting the union’s efforts at Harbor Point. “By hiring more qualified, local workers at good wages, BLT can demonstrate it wants to invest in local business and the people of Connecticut. I encourage BLT to change its contracting and hiring practices to support more people and businesses in Connecticut. It's what's best for the economy, what's best for the community, and what's best for the hard-working people of Connecticut," said Himes in a prepared written statement.
LeConche said at a May 4th press conference that the Stamford Zoning Board is postponing all project votes until “proper plans and promises formerly made by Building and Land Technology are delivered.” These promises include talking with the district council, which BLT has not yet done, LeConche says.
The union is prohibited by law to strike for more than 30 days, but the district council is encouraging other trades to pick up the campaign after that time frame, LeConche says.
Separately, the district council and other Connecticut construction unions started a protest campaign last fall against ESPN for the sports giant’s use of non-union shops and out-of-state workers on its $100-million, Bristol-based digital center project.
LeConche says he has not given up on this protest and has asked athletic unions for support, although, none have responded so far. However, he says ESPN is a “pimple project compared to Harbor Point,” which is a “self-contained” community that will invigorate Stamford.