Union officials making waves over alleged out-of-state hiring practices of Wave Holding
Submitted by Howard Owens on April 12, 2012 - 9:05pm
Two giant multinational companies received millions in taxpayer subsidies to launch "Project Wave" in Batavia on the promise of creating local jobs and stimulating the local economy, but so far, according to Dave Young, it's not happening.
Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, disputed Young's claims saying that Wave Holding has made a committment to hire a majority of local construction workers and that as of last week, 50 percent of the contracts had been awarded with 80 percent going to local firms.
Young is a union man -- president of the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council, as well as business manager of IBEW Local 86 -- and he will hold a press conference at 10 a.m., Friday, at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park to try to draw attention to the number of out-of-state workers being employed by Wave Holding, LLC.
"There are a lot of construction workers in our area who are out of work," Young said. "This isn't a union or non-union issue. It's a community issue."
Young and Anna Dumont, executive director, Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council, released a pair of videos Dumont said were shot this morning at the job site of Project Wave showing numerous out-of-state license plates on what they say are the cars of construction workers employed by building contractor Haskell and its subcontractors.
We received no reply to an email this afternoon to PepsiCo asking for comment on the situation.
Pepsi along with Germany-based Theo Muller Group formed Wave Holding to introduce a new Greek-style yogurt product to the United States and are spending more than $206 million to build a 363,000-square-foot facility.
The plant will initially employ nearly 200 people and could eventually employ as many as 600 people.
Wave Holding received more than $11 million in tax abatements for the project and the GCEDC has been able to channel millions more into building the ag park and ensuring the park has sufficient infrastructure to support operations there.
Young suggested GCEDC should adopt rules similar to those he claims are already in place in Monroe County -- if you get tax breaks for your project, you need to hire local workers.
"That's true of all IDA subsidized projects in Monroe County," Young said. "Some go union and some go non-union, but either way people in our community get to go to work every day. They earn paychecks that support their families. This is truly a community issue."
Hyde, who answered a couple of questions even though he's out of town on vacation, said the GCEDC supports local labor.
"We have done everything we can to encourage local labor and are a huge fan and advocate of local labor," Hyde said. "We have done so with Wave many times."
Young claimed the unemployment rate among construction workers in Western New York is about double the rate of the rest of the work force.
The problem with out-of-state workers (and Young thinks some of the workers at the site aren't even U.S. residents) is that they send their wages back home rather than spend the money here.
Studies, he said, put the multiplier effect of locally based construction work at three to seven times the worker's wages.
"They're paying taxes, going to local stores, getting things fixed locally, sending their kids to local schools and colleges," Young said.
Young said he hopes public attention on the matter will get Haskell to hire more local workers.
Meanwhile, throughout the construction of the Alpina yogurt plant, the parking lot -- including today -- has been consistently filled with vehicles with New York license plates.
As I stated when all tax breaks were given to this project, along with others. The jobs that were being createdshould be for Genesee County residents first. Just because the contracts are with LOCAL companys the license plate paint a different picture. Mr. Hyde and the county legislature should look inti this right away because other project will be starting soon that also have tax breaks given to them, and I will assume they also agreed to a hiring of locals.
Mr. Hyde says he has encougared local hiring many times. How about telling them they could be violation of the agreement and could lose the tax breaks?
In China, if a company wants to conduct business there and sell stuff to Chinese businesses, the company is mandated to have a portion of the work done there by Chinese workers. Some of their people get a percentage of jobs from the project or no dice. Maybe we should smarten up.
great point Wayne...It should be stated that they have to hire local workers or no tax breaks breaks .....Young suggested GCEDC should adopt rules similar to those he claims are already in place in Monroe County -- if you get tax breaks for your project, you need to hire local workers...Agreed...This is they way it should be for all IDA's across the state..
C'mon people, smarten up, if the plug on the tax breaks is pulled,the whole project gets pulled, corporate blackmail is alive and well, and they call the shots.
If the bidding process is done fairly, and the contracters getting the jobs placed the lowest bids, it really doesn't matter where they come from, they are providing the most cost effective labor force, that is the bottom line.
We (local, taxpayers) have exchanged tax breaks and grants in exchange for jobs. ...Not just jobs at the plant once-built; jobs building the plant and spin-off jobs associated with feeding the labor force, delivering supplies and equipment, etc., etc. ...And don't forget, we local taxpayers will pay twice for the incentive package: once for the grants and a second time, making up for the deferred taxes the corporation won't be paying for the next decade. So when organized labor points out that we (local taxpayers) are not getting all of what we invested in- don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
It's high-time those who rhetorically implicate "unions" as an unsavory cabal recognize that unions are comprised of people, our neighbors. IBEW Local 86 is Rochester-area electricians. The same men and women who (along with Local 19 Carpenters, Local 13 Plumbers, Local 46 Sheet metal workers, Local 3 Bricklayers, Local 150 Painters, etc.) build our communities and implement journeyman programs that ensure the highest quality standards.
The division between Rochester and Buffalo locals 'generally' coincides with Rt 98, the west being Buffalo/Niagara Falls territory and east, Rochester. Some workers belong to both divisions, often agreements are made to share territory when a project falls close to divisional border; it is erroneous to assume that members of a Rochester trade union live in Rochester. A relative of mine, member of Local 86, lives in the Bergen area; the dearth of local work has forced him to travel to Florida and Kentucky for employment.
That is why IBEW is monitoring this project; they are advocating for their membership- as they should.
This union guy said it was not about the union, just about hiring local workers. So no union workers from anywhere get hired until all local Genesee County workers, union or not, are all hired, right?