Press-Republican

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April 12, 2014

Clinton County rejects labor restriction for airport expansion

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators rejected a plea to create a Project Labor Agreement for the upcoming major airport expansion.

Work on the $54 million terminal expansion at Plattsburgh International Airport is expected to begin later this year.

Area union officials wanted the county to adopt the agreement, which ensures the use of organized labor workers on the job.

But county leaders and local contractors say that type of agreement does not guarantee any savings on the project and that union workers can still be hired.

SAVINGS CITED

John Donoghue, president of the Plattsburgh-Saranac Lake Building Trades Council and business agent for Laborers Local 1822 in Plattsburgh, told legislators at Wednesday night’s meeting that Project Labor Agreements have been proven to save money on major projects.

He noted that the construction of a new jail in St. Lawrence County last year wound up on time and about $750,000 under budget with the agreement in place.

“Taxpayers deserve a chance to save nearly $1 million on this project,” Donahue said. “They deserve a chance to look into this.”

Betty Lennon of the Northeast Labor Council reminded legislators that many of them said they supported local labor when they ran for office last year.

“We need good-paying jobs for local people,” she said.

“We heard many times during the campaign that you support local jobs.”

NEGOTIATED DETAILS

Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo explained that a Project Labor Agreement is basically a collective bargaining agreement for individual projects.

Work details of each part of the project need to be negotiated, and workers must be hired through local union halls, he said.

Project Labor Agreements are not required by the federal government but are encouraged.

TIME, COST ISSUES

The county voted last year to undertake the expansion and is seeking up to $9.5 million in federal funding to help pay for it.

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