Contractor concerns remain over nursing home project

County touts increased apprenticeships, focus on minority workers

— The position of minority contractors on the new Schenectady County Nursing Facility Project Labor Agreement is in stark contrast to those of local union members, and some have raised concerns of exclusion.

The Schenectady County Legislature heard from several minority contractors opposing the new Glendale Nursing Home Project Licensing Agreement during its meeting on Tuesday, March 13. The Legislature approved the PLA during its previous regular meeting in February, with Minority Leader James Buhrmaster casting the only vote in opposition. County officials touted the agreement increasing the use of apprentices as a benefit for minorities, women and economically disadvantaged individuals.

County Attorney Christopher Gardner stressed the importance of hiring minorities during the Legislature’s committee meeting before voting on the agreement.

“We are going to be working with our Affirmative Action Officer Miriam Cajuste extremely closely to try and ensure recruitment efforts,” Gardner said. “We are looking forward to a collaborative effort among all the parties, including the contractors.”

Increasing the use of apprentices by 25 percent is estimated to save the county $400,000 in construction costs. Also, savings would come from reducing the number of holidays, the use of an Alternative Dispute Resolution for worker’s compensation and specifying the entire project as a building project. The PLA is estimated to yield a total of $737,800 in savings

Schenectady resident Roxanne Wright balked at the PLA though, because even if union workers are paid prevailing wage the overtime will knock back any savings.

“After having hired union people … if they work one moment past an eight-hour day they get overtime,” Wright said. “Any savings that you think have been realized by cutting holidays or the other things you do will quickly be eaten up by overtime.”

Also, she thought it was “interesting” the county was touting a 1 percent savings on a $50 million project without understanding the affect on minorities.

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