As local director of the National Association of Merit Tradespeople, USA, I'd like to respond to the News article, "Project labor agreement approved for city school." On Aug. 5, the Buffalo Board of Education voted in favor of a PLA, a "victory for trade unions." In reality, this was a defeat for the taxpayers and non-union (merit) workers in Western New York.
The Northwest Academy job, was, by specification, a prevailing-wage job. Prevailing wage for public-works jobs in the state was lobbied for by trade unions to insure that their contractors could compete with non-union contractors by maintaining union-wage scale. It appears that the Buffalo Building Trades Council (a combination of union trades joined to show force) has decided this is no longer enough incentive for owners to use union workers. They now picket prevailing-wage jobs, even though the bid procedure insures them an equal playing field.
At Northwest Academy, this picketing pushed the Board of Education into a corner. To protect the public, Buffalo police officers, merit tradespeople and their equipment from violence and sabotage, the board was forced to hire outside consultants to evaluate a PLA.
In calculating these costs, the consultants were not allowed to consider the costs of their services, additional construction costs associated with a five-month delay, increased costs of winter conditions, extended costs of maintaining space and services until job completion or legal fees. All these costs will be borne by the taxpayer.
Statistics show 85 percent of U.S. workers do not belong to unions -- they are merit workers, making up the vast majority of the work force. If unions were concerned about workers' rights, they would not call us scabs, prevent us from working, damage our belongings and hold strikes, the cost of which gets passed on to the consumer. They would spend their time and money lobbying the government for the entitlements already secured for themselves.
Board Member Anthony Luppino was quoted as stating the PLA was the "right thing to do," and Jack Coyle stated about union tradesmen: "The job is done better." What a slap in the face for every non-union worker.
I hope voters looking for representatives who will keep the majority of Americans in mind remember statements like these.
Ted Van Deusen Youngstown