Ruling on 2010 Griffiss project stuns worker, unions
Posted in the Utica Forum
#1 Jul 6, 2014
Posted Jul. 6, 2014 @ 9:00 pm
When Michael Aikens agreed to work on a 2010 construction project at Griffiss Business and Technology Park, he thought he was going to get the prevailing wage.
Though he's not part of a union, he was pretty sure the project met the definition of a public work, so by law he would be entitled to wages and benefits set by the state Department of Labor that generally are comparable to those received by union workers.
With a disabled daughter at home, the Lee Center man needed the money - but it didn't come.
“It basically crushed us financially,” he said.
The heavy equipment operator got $16.50 an hour, but believes he could have earned at least twice that.
He and other non-union workers on the site knew the wage issue was in litigation, but just a month before ground was broken, the Department of Labor issued an opinion stating the project would be required to pay the prevailing wage.
Cardinal Griffiss Realty and Griffiss Local Development Corp., which own the site, were contesting that opinion and the case was making its way through the courts.
Aikens has been waiting almost four years to see if he is entitled to back pay.
He just got his answer.
“The Griffiss Local Development Corp. has not been cited by the New York State Department of Labor for violation of any wage laws or labor violations of any kind,” Labor Department spokeswoman Jennifer Krinsky said in an emailed statement.
That means he may not be getting any back pay.
The Aikens weren't the only ones caught off guard by the labor department's turnaround.
“I am quite surprised,” said Syracuse-based attorney Jan Kublik, who represents the National Electrical Contractors Association Finger Lakes Chapter, and requested the first labor department opinion in 2010.“Our expectation was that the Department of Labor would be proceeding and I have not heard to the contrary.”
Pat Costello, president of the area's International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 43 said he was disappointed the labor department changed its position.
“This had statewide ramifications,” he said of the case.“If they determine that this job is not prevailing wage here, similar jobs in Buffalo and Binghamton will have the same results.”
Court documents show that the Department of Labor appeared to stand by its opinion that the project - the building now occupied by Assured Information Security - was subject to the prevailing wage at least until February 2013.
GLDC, Cardinal Griffiss Realty and Gaetano Construction Corp. had gone before state Supreme Court Justice Anthony Shaheen in an effort to get him to rule that they were not subject to prevailing wage laws. In July 2011, Shaheen rejected their claims and said they had to pursue their objections through the labor department's administrative system.
Read more: http://www.uticaod.com/article/20140706/News/...
#2 Jul 7, 2014
Get rid of all of the prevailing wage laws and the forced unionism that they benefit. These laws artificially drive up costs.
Bid the projects and let the qualified low bidder win without all of the things that drive up the costs.
#3 Jul 7, 2014
Your typical Union laborer has an IQ in the double digits. Jobs should be bid to the lowest bidder.
This imbecile is cying over "only" getting 16.50 an hour for driving a forklift!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
If these morons wanted to earn big money maybe they should have gone to college and learned something.
Operating a backhoe does not entitle you to an appearance on the Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous!!!
#4 Jul 7, 2014
There you go again another uninformed and ignorant post. I can see you must be at the top of the wage scale. Must be you are upset about your station in life.
#6 Jul 7, 2014
I despise these uneducated dolts who picket outside of every construction site that doesn't use their labor at obscene prices.
This country is supposed to be about free market capitalism and it's IMPOSSIBLE for businesses to compete with foreign interests when you have to pay some guys who couldn't finish the third grade 33 dollars an hour to operate a forklift.
Sorry, but 99.9% of America feels this way.
If the job was actually WORTH paying someone 33 dollars an hour over, then why are people willing to do it for half that price? LOL!!
The answer is that it is NOT worth that type of wage.
More and more companies are eschewing labor unions and it's working out VERY well for them.
The biggest developer here in Clifton Park did a STUNNING job of converting a dead mall into a combo of box stores/best theater in the area/hotel/restaurants and those morons picketed his site while they did the construction.
Think he cares? The guy has made millions and millions off that purchase and conversion and those guys holding the signs out front still can't read or write.
Unions were a necessary and just creation at the turn of the last century when workers in the US were being exploited and forced to work under grotesque conditions.
Now? They've destroyed the ability of the US to compete in manufacturing and hurt the economy.
If you want to worship and play the violin for a bunch of uneducated swine who don't deserve half of what they demand then be my guest.
Only those who are union workers and their families give a damn, so that tells me all I need to know about you.
Now grab your hardhat and get your ass to work out there while those of us who were educated enjoy another cup of coffee in our office.
#8 Jul 7, 2014
ˌənˈ ;ejəˌk&# 257;tid/Submit
lacking an education; poorly educated.
synonyms: untaught, unschooled, untutored, untrained, unread, unscholarly, illiterate, unlettered, ignorant, ill-informed, uninformed;
#10 Jul 7, 2014
lol affluent life = living in Schenectady spending all waking hours on utica topix. always good for a laugh, thanks.
#12 Jul 7, 2014
oh you live a thousand miles away and spend all day of your affluent lifestyle posting on utica topix. lol much better the lifestyles of the rich and famous are so interesting.
#13 Jul 7, 2014
So let me get this straight. Workers where recruited, told that they would be paid bellow average wages, but not to worry because the courts where still working out the details, and prevailing wages would inevitably be paid. So the workers (the guys who actually do the work hence contribute, hence the makers NOT takers) take the job. When some could have made more elsewhere with less stress. Now we find out it was actually the owners of Gaetano construction that fought the prevailing wage. Had the court ruled in the favor of the workers. roughly 50 men would be receiving checks in the amounts anywhere from $5,000-$15.000. Instead one of the riches men in CNY made an even larger boat load of money which will most likely be invested in wall street because he already has everything, and much, much more than he needs. The workers would have bought cars, houses, paid of depts., maybe gone to college. Think what you want. Unions, or at least good wages are what made this country great!
#14 Jul 7, 2014
Wait till the outfit you work for decides to dump your asz for no reason you aszhole, then you'll wish you had a union you piece of shit. F*ck you Riggie.
#15 Jul 7, 2014
You are a no good scumbag. Have a nice day Riggie
#16 Jul 8, 2014
It would appear that riggie doesn't like this post either.
#17 Jul 8, 2014
Look how he & Roefaro screwed the taxpayer's when he sold that dump downtown to the city for a buck. Then we got hosed for 300 grand in demo costs. Look at Charleston, another 3rd world eyesore. Yep, he's one of the area elite big shots.
#18 Jul 9, 2014
The compensation for any job should be exactly the amount that the most qualified applicant agrees to do that job for. It should not be some inflated rate based on a made up government index which is what prevailing wage is. Prevailing wage is the result of labor unions spending lots of money to persuade our legislators to create laws that favor them. It's just not right.
In this case, laborers took the job, the job got done and they were paid what they agreed to do the job for. Ask yourself this. Would the job been done better or more effectively if prevailing wages been paid? The answer is a resounding no.
Your point about one of the richest men in central New York falls short. It's typical union rhetoric designed to stir up emotion. Start here. It was not your money. You have no say in how that money should be distributed and who should get it.
I would also respectfully disagree with this:
"Unions, or at least good wages are what made this country great"
It was unions and their demands for things like prevailing wage rates that killed the middle class especially here in New York. It forced businesses (whose main mission is to make money for its' owners) to look for a way to compete and earn a profit. In manufacturing that meant sending those jobs offshore. Americans just aren't willing to pay what is costs to buy American union produced goods. In the case of construction in New York we have the cost of prevailing wages forced down our throats making it more difficult for all businesses and the taxpaying public.
#19 Jul 9, 2014
You make valid points. However the likelihood that workers would be receiving prevailing wages was dangled in front of the workers nose like a carrot through out the course of this job! Ask you're self. Would the job have been done at all of the 50 plus workers involved where told from the beginning that they would receive little compensation for their hard work? As far as inflated wages. Well that couldn't be further from the truth! Before 1980 GM was the largest employer in the U.S. The average pay for a G.M. worker was the equivalent of $54 per hr. Today walmart is the largest employer in the U.S. with the average hourly wage of around $9. As far as wages go. this country has taken huge, HUGE steps backwards, and prevailing wages on the Assured Information Project would have been a step in the right direction,
#20 Jul 9, 2014
He's a businessman. He's in business to make money. He's going to look for every way to be able to do that. It takes two to tango. More of the blame falls to the politicians that facilitate this type of thing rather than blaming a businessman doing what business people do.
#21 Jul 9, 2014
We are all business men, and women, and WORKERS
#22 Jul 9, 2014
We are not all business people. There are business people and those who work for business people.
#23 Jul 9, 2014
They were offered the jobs. They took the jobs regardless what was rumored. If it was that much of a factor they would've gotten it in writing. Going back now is like the contractor who replaced my roof coming back to me long after the job was complete asking me for more money because his workers feel they deserved more or heard they would be paid more. If it is that important, get it in writing.
Funny you would use GM as an example. GM exists today only because of a taxpayer bailout. When all was said and done the United States taxpayers lost over $1.5 billion on that deal. Why was GM on the verge of bankruptcy a few short years ago? The UAW will tell you it was due to bad design. The reality is that the cost of legacy union benefits(pension and healthcare) added $1200 to $1600 to the cost of every new car. That made them less competitive. Americans were not willing to pay more for cars and trucks just because they were made by GM in the USA especially when they could buy a better made Toyota or Honda also made in the USA(in right to work states without the UAW costs). Given the millions and millions of recalls we've seen on GM vehicles recently, I'd say that in order to pay the inflated union compensation they had to cut corners elsewhere in order to price their products competitively. I guess quality isn't job one in Detroit anymore.
Put the blame where it belongs. Unions killed the middle class in America.
#24 Jul 9, 2014
I likes my union. I gets 4 smoke breaks an hour! And I'm making more money than anybody else living up in the holler.
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