12/21/07

Broome County Dems table union thuggery repeal

Eight Broome County legislators tried and failed Thursday to bring a controversial project labor agreement back to the table for discussion and reconsideration.

The attempt failed while more than 100 men and women wearing labor T-shirts crowded legislative chambers or waited outside in a long line to get into the Broome County Office Building.

Legislators on Nov. 20 approved the project labor agreement, which restricts work on the $16.9 million George Harvey Justice Building to 90 percent union labor. Non-union contractors on Wednesday obtained a temporary stay on Wednesday's scheduled bidding for the project. A court hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 29 and 30 on the matter.

On Thursday, 10 "yes" votes were needed to bring the resolution back before members.

"Political muscle blocked the recall," said Daniel Schofield, R-Endicott, after the measure failed. Schofield voted in favor of the recall, along with seven others. All were Republicans except Richard Materese, D-Endicott. Democrats hold a 10-9 majority on the Legislature, but the Nov. 20 vote had been 17-0 with one abstention and one absence.

Materese said afterward he has always believed in open discussion. He had not decided to change his Nov. 20 vote in favor of the labor agreement, the Democrat said.

"I would have listened to what people had to say," Materese said.

Two legislators abstained from Thursday's vote. They were John Hutchings, D-Binghamton, a regional union representative from Local Labor #7 of Binghamton and chairman of the Legislature's Public Works Committee. The project labor agreement legislation came from Hutchings' committee.

Wayne Howard, R-Port Crane, also abstained from Thursday's vote. Howard, who voted in favor of the agreement Nov. 20, is the owner of a local union contractor shop.

(pressconnects.com)

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