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The Lackawanna Board of Education on Tuesday authorized the beginning of negotiations for a project labor agreement with building trades unions for constructing a $13 million elementary school on Martin Road.

The unanimous vote authorizes School Superintendent Monica Kole and school attorney Carl W. Morgan to study whether such an agreement with the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO) would reap the intended benefits. The council represents 16 skilled-trade unions.

Morgan and the architectural firm Foit-Albert Associates are to begin negotiations with the council, and other unions not part of it, to reach an agreement that will guarantee:

Cost savings for the district.

No strikes, work slowdowns, picketing or lockouts, with disputes to be resolved by binding arbitration if necessary.

Equal employment opportunities for women and minorities.

Eligibility of all responsible contractors and subcontractors, "regardless of union affiliation or lack thereof," to bid to work on the project.

The resolution said the expected benefits also include an adequate supply of skilled-craft workers, permitting contractors to project their labor costs at the outset, and a "legally enforceable commitment to maintain labor stability and labor peace over the life of the project."

Bids will be sought from independent engineering firms to conduct a project analysis of the proposed agreement to assure that it is financially feasible.

"Build it right, and build it union!" the School Board president, Kenneth Motyka, exclaimed as he added his vote to the resolution.

Daniel Boody, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council, attended the special meeting and said he is optimistic that a fair agreement will be reached.

The School Board also decided on a revised plan for consolidating the 26 voting districts into just nine voting places. The measure would save on the cost of hiring election inspectors, renting and delivering voting machines and renting privately owned voting sites.

The 65 percent reduction in polling sites will leave these places for voters to go next Election Day: Yemenite Social Club, Mabel Truitt Community Center, Bocce Court, Lackawanna City Hall, Washington School, McKinley School, Ukrainian Church Hall, Senior Citizens Center and Lackawanna High School.

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