Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ulster County: We Insist On Low Wages For Our Residents!

The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency has suspended a requirement that construction workers be paid prevailing wages in order for a developer to receive tax benefits.

Michael Berardi, chairman of the IDA’s board of directors, said the six-member body voted unanimously last week to suspend the wage rule for one year.

For at least a year now the IDA board has tried their hardest to undermine their own policy and it has finally come to a head. The policy became a cheap excuse for the boards lack of success at attracting businesses to the county.

There are speculators that say some members on the IDA board purposely told half hearted developers to complain about the policy and feign reluctance to proceed because they would "have" to pay decent wages to construction workers.

That doesn't seem so far fetched considering all of the crying from Colony Liquors last year and the fact that they are building with prevailing wages in their new location in Greene County. Not to mention that prevailing wages actually fit into their budget here.

There is also a rumour that some on the board have kept a couple of developer pals in the wings so that after they finally killed the policy - they might look smart for once when these poor, needy developers step up. One of them owns half of Ulster and Orange County. He really needs the money.

I wonder if they made a new policy that said construction workers should be paid in food stamps if that would be more in line with their thinking?

Using their logic, the County whose people make the lowest wages are the biggest winners!

IDA board member Jennifer Fuentes, who supports decent wages, said she favored suspending the wage policy for a year because she believes it has nothing to do with the lack of developers seeking agency assistance and that the suspension will prove that.

Fuentes says that opponents have said repeatedly that the wage policy hampered development, and “now they have a year to prove that business will be pounding down the doors of Ulster County now that we have no standards.”

IDA board member David O’Halloran said the wage policy has been a roadblock to developers and that suspending it will send an encouraging signal to companies looking to build in Ulster County. Dave is obviously is against people in Ulster making decent wages. What a guy! Wonder where Dave works.

“We need to remove every possible barrier to allow business to grow, expand or relocate to Ulster County,” O’Halloran said. “We need to roll out the welcome mat.”

Sam Fratto, assistant business manager for Local 363 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said the IDA board should not have suspended the policy and never really gave it a chance.

“This (agency) was created to enhance the economic well being of residents in the area,” Fratto said. “It wasn’t made as a form of corporate welfare, which it has become.”

Rally the troops.


Jeremiah said...

I don't get it. Our local government does nothing to encourage business moving to our area except hold press conferences. Their has not been a push for a true shovel ready site in Ulster yet. Residents come out in protest of just about any development that does try to come in to our area because they say "it's not right for our area".

Then these people have the nerve to blame it on prevailing wage. You have got to be kidding me. I may not be the biggest union supporter around, but I don't know how you can blame our problems on prevailing wage when our government and residents go out of their way to hinder development at every turn. Development does not get anywhere near the point where they have to worry about prevailing wage, they are turned off long before that.

bullhorner said...

Isn't that the couldn't build a large scale dog house here without some group saying you are going to wipe out a weed or a frog or a view of the moon.

Think about this - our solution to bringing good paying jobs here is to kill good paying jobs and not push for the ones that should follow.

Lets review all of the projects that the IDA did five years prior to adopting the policy and have Paul Kirby give the county a report on what the raw numbers are and how much we paid to achieve it all. And lets get a wage report on them too and see the quality jobs we are getting for our millions in tax breaks to the needy developers.

I bet that track record sucks.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the door is gonna be flying off the hinges now that the prevailing rate is gone!!! As for the two or more "customers" the IDA has lined up to make it look good, let's keep track of the expansion it'll bring to Ulster County!!!! I'll be checkin!!!

Anonymous said...

Solar Thin Films and Prism are all recent projects that started while the labor policy was in place. These should not be counted as "new" projects since the IDA has already taken initial actions and the companies had no expectation of the labor policy being waived.
- Jen