Contractor concerns remain over nursing home project

County touts increased apprenticeships, focus on minority workers

— “We can’t even use our own people on these jobs,” she said. “I have to keep my people at home and hire somebody from a local labor union hall, which quite frankly doesn’t look like me.”

The agreement requires all project bidders to hire 80 percent of workers through the union hiring hall. Contractors are allowed to use up to 20 percent of their own workers. A non-union construction firm can bid on the project, as long as the 80 percent hiring rule is followed.

Jason Planck, a Schenectady resident and disability advocate, spoke against the county implementing a PLA for the project.

“The PLA doesn’t need to be there, because it doesn’t have any justification whatsoever,” Planck said. “You have no jurisdiction whatsoever over this membership organization to tell them they have to hire a minority or accept a minority as part of their membership.”

Gardner said the language of the agreement promotes women- and minority-owned business and makes it a “high priority” to use such firms. Using apprentices, he said, will also help the county bring new people into the workforce.

“We are going to be working with the building trades to aggressively recruit minorities to these apprenticeships,” Gardner said. “It isn’t just going to be the most senior guys working on the project.”

Gardner said he believes the PLA balances competing concerns “in an effective and direct way.” Also, he said approving a PLA is encouraged under state law.

He thought opposition to the PLA was ill founded.

“I don’t think they really understand the significance of the PLA agreement and I don’t think they fully comprehend our strong commitment to apprenticeship programs,” he said.

He said the agreement helps avoid possible work slowdowns or strikes, so work will remain constant. Also, it allows the workforce to be filled with local residents

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