Union tries ‘facetious’ approach in MaxPac labor dispute

by Tom Nash on January 21, 2011

Members of a local bricklayer union stood in a snowstorm outside City Hall today to give out handbills thanking Mayor Joseph Curtatone for ignoring them.

The handbill, written in the voice of “The Concerned workers from New Hampshire at MaxPac,” thanks Curtatone for not enforcing language in a  covenant between the developer of the former MaxPac factory site and the city that “encourages” the use of local, union labor.

Several unions and Somerville community groups had advocated for a Project Labor Agreement, which would force the developers, KSS Realty and new partner Gate Residential Properties, to use a certain percentage of union labor.

 “By moving the project along without the Project Labor Agreement and local hiring language, those of us from the great White North will continue to be gainfully employed in your wonderful city,” the handbill stated.

Tom McIntyre, a representative for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, says the “facetious” handbill is a reference to the New Hamsphire plates at the site of the developer’s currently underway phase of the project. A 184-unit rental complex, which received final approval at a Planning Board meeting earlier this month, is still out for bid.

“We are not a party to private negotiations,” Curtatone said through a spokesman. “However, the City has facilitated discussions between the developer and various Boston-area trades associations on the remaining 184 units to be built at the MaxPac site.

“The covenant signed with the developer encourages the use of union labor. It does not require it. Ultimately, a civil dialog between the developer and each interested union is what will bear the most fruit.”

McIntyre said he gave a handbill to Curtatone this morning.

“We’ve gone backwards, so to speak,” McIntyre said after the protest. “The mayor claimed he was with us, but through his actions with the Planning Board he just wants to get the thing done.”

While the protesters succeeded in petitioning City Hall for a hearing on the issue, McIntyre said the protest campaign will continue, and that he still expects picketing to occur at the work site.


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