Letter to the Editor: Stadium Project Needs Construction Workers
ABC President Brian Sampson was recently featured in the East Aurora Advertiser about the Bills Stadium Project workforce issues.
Whether we’re a broken record or, as Yogi Berra famously said, “it’s like déjà vu all over again”, the fact that the Bills stadium and other local projects need more construction workers should not be a surprise. We’ve been clear from the beginning that these projects would need outside workers to visit Erie County in order for the projects to remain on schedule. Sadly, there is only one person to blame. County Executive Poloncarz and his administration have taken aggressive steps to eliminate more that 70 percent of the local construction market from working by his use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Mr. Poloncarz has never hidden his preference for union labor. Just look at his campaign filings and you’ll see he owes them a great deal. And he’s repaying them by steering work their way.
The PLA is a tool he uses to discourage non-union contractors from bidding on these projects. He’s well aware that these contractors will not bid work where they are not allowed to employ their entire workforce on the project. They will not pick winners and losers from within the company just to get the work. Rather they turn their focus to projects where their entire workforce is welcomed on the job.
The solution to the problem is not a job fair. The solution to the problem is not bringing in workers from outside the region which he’s already admitted will happen. The solution is to stop using PLAs and intentionally restrict the skilled labor market.
Whether it’s the Bills new stadium, or the Kensington Parkway or other large projects the county is building, the lack of skilled workers will continue to flourish as long as County Executive Poloncarz requires PLAs. If he truly cares about keeping projects on-time and on budget, he’ll drop his use of PLAs. If he truly wants to be the County Executive of all the skilled tradespeople in the region, he should drop the PLAs and let the best-qualified bid, regardless of affiliation, win.
ABC Empire State Chapter President