PLATTSBURGH — A local construction company is suing Clinton County over a Project Labor Agreement that it says will kill opportunity for hundreds of locals to work on a project at Plattsburgh International Airport.
Luck Bros. Inc. filed paperwork with the Clinton County Clerk’s office Friday that aims to halt the $40 million project until that agreement is dropped.
The Plattsburgh-based company says the PLA, passed by the Clinton County Legislature Aug. 9, effectively bars hundreds of local construction workers, most of whom are not union members, from working on the project because it requires the winning contractor to hire two union workers for every one non-union employee.
According to the lawsuit, Luck Bros. wants the court to halt any current contracts or future bids on the project and to direct the county to draw up a new labor agreement on the grounds that it is unlawful.
Jeff Luck of Luck Brothers Construction could not be reached by press time.
Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo said the county had no comment on the lawsuit.
The county received $38 million from the state earlier this year for the airport improvements and also got money from the federal government for other projects there, for a total $40 million worth of work.
Upon strong encouragement by the state, the county spent $15,000 to study the worth of and then adopted a Project Labor Agreement.
It was conducted by Timothy Seeler, a downstate engineer who specializes in PLA evaluations, and it showed savings of about $3 million should a PLA be in place.
Under a Project Labor Agreement, the county does not have to follow the Wicks Law, which means only one main contractor — instead of four — is needed for all aspects of the job.
Costs tend to go up when more than one contractor is running a project, since there is more paperwork and can be construction delays.
While most of those agreements in the state call for a three- or four-to-one ratio of union versus non-union workers, the county was able to negotiate a two-for-one deal with area union leaders.
Non-union contractors could still bid for the job but had to hire the required union workers, if a Project Labor Agreement were approved.
AT STATE'S BEHEST
"The study says we will save $3 million, so why not do a PLA?" Legislature Chairman Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain) said in early August, before the vote that OK'd the measure.
"The state is saying, 'We gave you $38 million. A PLA will save you $3 million. Are we going to continue to invest in Clinton County if they don't want to do this?'" he said.
"We are at an economic-development peak right now in the county, and we want to continue to partner with the state."
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