November 1, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
Staten Island, NY – Now that a new Project Labor Agreement (PLA) guaranteeing the redevelopment of the north shore will be 100-percent union is finally being hammered out – organized labor is sticking to its promise that Staten Islanders will soon have exciting pathways to careers through special programs like Non-Traditional Employment for Women, Helmets to Hardhats and others. Watch Video
“We will look to incorporate all of those [programs] as pathways for residents of St. George and Stapleton and other neighborhoods around the project,” NYC District Council of Carpenters Business Representative Eamonn Carey told
LaborPress this week. “Those will be utilized so the people do gain long-term employment, and that they’re not just boomerang jobs where people are back on unemployment as soon as their place on the project is finished.”
The NYC District Council of Carpenters is part of Build Up NYC – the broad-based labor coalition that has successfully fought to bring about the St. George PLA.
Situated next to Richmond County Bank Ballpark, the St. George Redevelopment Project proposes building the Empire Outlets Mall, the world’s largest observation wheel and more. All together, the 16-acre development site is expected to generate roughly 1,000 construction jobs and as many as 1,200 jobs in retail and hotel management.
“We’re pleased that the developer of Empire Outlets has committed to build with union labor of the building trades, said Paul Fernandes, spokesperson for Build Up NYC. “We look forward to working with BFC Partners to move forward with this important project and to provide training and employment opportunities to Staten Island residents.”
Local 28 sheet metal worker Reinaldo Torres has lived in St. George for almost 25 years, and is looking forward to the first shovels hitting the ground.
“Personally, I’m out of work right now,” Torres said. “I did work on the Staten Island Supreme Court House where I was for 26 months. I had the luxury of walking to work every day. Hopefully, I’ll get a position on this project that will keep me in the neighborhood and help my family as well. I know that there are good contractors and good work opportunities. I can get my benefits and have a good living wage for my family.”
According to Torres, the PLA is not only good for union workers like him – and all those hoping to join him in the ranks of organized labor. It’s also good for BFC Partners Principal Don Capoccia and the rest of the borough.
“I think it’s a win for labor,” Torres added. “I think it’s [also] a win for the community and for the developer as well because now what he’s getting is a highly skilled workforce to do the work. The work will come in on budget and it will be a quality job.”
For Torres, the entire project – which now also includes agreements with the Hotel Trades Council and 32BJ SEIU regarding hospitality, building service and security employees – is something that his neighborhood has needed for a long time.
“St. George is finally getting some good development,” said Torres. “It’s certainly going to bring a lot of tourism into the area and a lot of money for the local businesses. It’ll definitely help clean up the neighborhood as well. It could definitely use a haircut and a shave.”