3/21/08

Lawmakers rescind union-only PLA

New bid requests for renovating the George Harvey Justice Building in Binghamton (NY) could go out early next month as county officials get the $16.9 million project back on track after a legal battle over whether workers should be limited to union members.

Deputy County Executive Patrick Brennan said bids could be advertised in early April and low bidders awarded contracts by the end of April -- if the project doesn't encounter any more snags. That would put the construction start date around the middle of June, Brennan said.

Broome County legislators voted Thursday to rescind a controversial project labor agreement they'd approved in November. That agreement would have limited workers on the project to 10 percent non-union tradesmen. The other 90 percent would have to be hired from local unions.

Non-union contractors challenged the agreement in court, halting the scheduled December opening of bids. A judge granted a stay on the project and held hearings on the agreement in January. On March 6, state Supreme Court Justice Ferris Lebous ruled the labor agreement void because the project did not meet the special criteria necessary to supersede the state's public bidding laws.

County officials said they approved the labor agreement to give work on the project to local workers. But local non-union contractors said they and their employees would have been financially hurt.

Thursday's vote by the legislature allows Broome County to proceed with the renovation project without the project labor agreement, Brennan said.

The George Harvey Justice Building, built in 1939, stood empty for years on Hawley Street until lawmakers voted last year to spend the county's $16.9 million in tobacco settlement money on renovating the building for county office space.

The county plans to move the district attorney's office, probation office, and the public defender's office to the George Harvey Justice Building. Currently, the county leases space for those offices. The building has already been gutted to its support beams and outer walls as the first part of the construction project.

(pressconnects.com)

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