Union pickets Passaic Ave. mall site

Members of Local 3, Building Construction Laborers of North Jersey, are picketing a Passaic Ave. mall development site where a new BJ’s is slated as the anchor tenant.

Currently, Danco General Contracting is demolishing the old Congoleum factory on the site to clear the way for construction of new retail outlet stores by DVL Holdings LLC.

Paul Roldan, Local 3 field representative for Hudson and Essex counties, said the union is upset about Danco’s use of non-union labor and about safety at the work site.

Danco, according to a published report, is paying its workers $22 to $25 an hour with no benefits. Roldan said the union scale “area standard” is $54 an hour. And, he said, the benefit of having union labor is that, “all of our people are OSHA (federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration)-trained.”

Aside from that, Rolan said that, “for jobs of this magnitude,” there’s no reason why at least some Kearny area residents shouldn’t be employed. For tax-abated development projects exceeding $20 million, the government permits Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) between the community and the developer, which, he said, would “trigger the use of a [union] apprenticeship program for at least 20% of the work force at the project.”

Asked about that, Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said that local government “cannot mandate the use of union labor” but they can sign a PLA “which requires the contractor to employ and train apprentices” and “a contractor with non-union workers would have to pay union dues for the length of the project and follow union rules on pensions and work conditions. Kearny does not have a PLA policy.”

Asked if the town would consider implementing such a policy, Santos said: “We would need a cost analysis done before doing so. Unlike Jersey City [which has a PLA], Kearny does not have the same level of developer interest.”

 – Ron Leir 

The Observer Staff