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Local Train Work Force Won't Be From Falls

By Frank Parlato

Despite Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster's claim to the contrary, the new train station will not be built by Niagara Falls residents.

The proposed $25 million station will be put out to bid and the low bidder, regardless of whether they are local or not, or union or not, will get the job.

The Project Labor Agreement (PLA) approved by the city allows contractors and subcontractors to bring up to 50 percent of workers on the job who are non- union and who can reside outside the area.

This is called the "key" employees provision.

The PLA in place on the Norampac job saw less than 50 percent of workers coming from Western New York.  Laborers came from across the nation and even from outside the U. S. to work on the project.

Depending on how local companies fare with winning subcontracting bids, there should be somewhere between 50 - 70 percent of local union workers on the job.

But, let us define local union workers.

When the PLA refers to local union workers, for the most part that means Western New York workers, not necessarily Niagara Falls workers.

The reason for this is that there are only four local unions that are part of the PLA that have only Niagara County membership: The laborers, the operators, the ironworkers and the electricians.

All the rest have memberships that include Niagara County and Erie County workers. The plumbers, roofers, plasterers, brick layers, cement, pipe coverers, insulators, elevator constructors, carpenters, boilermakers, cement masons, heat and frost insulators, painters and glaziers, road sprinkler fitters, sheet metal workers and teamsters are comprised of members who live in Erie and Niagara Counties.

The local share of the jobs will go to people in Hamburg, Amherst and Orchard Park as well as Niagara Falls. A person from Buffalo will be just as much a local as someone from Niagara Falls, according to the PLA.

The "local labor force" will be mostly Erie County residents with perhaps 35 percent coming from Niagara County.

Since Niagara Falls union members make up less than half of the Niagara County union membership and since as little as 50 percent will be local union workers anyway, and only 35 percent will be from Niagara County, and half of that again Niagara Falls' workers, it is safe to assume that Niagara Falls workers will get less than 10 percent of the work on the train station.

The reality of Mayor Dyster's claim that this will mean jobs comes into perspective. Dyster says that there will be 50 full-time jobs created. At 10 percent, that means an equivalent of five Niagara Falls jobs will be created. Niagara Falls taxpayers will pay the $2 million or more needed to construct the station, and after the station is complete, will pay operations and maintenance shortfalls after Amtrak and any tenants' rent is subtracted.

It may or may not be wise to build a train station under the current financing plan developed by Mayor Dyster.

However, to try to justify it by saying that it will provide meaningful and plentiful work for the people of Niagara Falls is entirely inaccurate.

Local 91 Union Leader Skeptical on Train Station Jobs

Local Union leader, Dick Palladino, the king of the no BS, 100 percent straight talk.

Laborers Local 91 Business Manager Dick Palladino is far from convinced that local workers will get much work on the train station project.

"Of course, you will get arguments that this is not going to happen but it is going to happen. It is very difficult for the mayor to make a statement that Niagara Falls residents will be hired to build the train station. I wouldn't make that statement because I know how tough it will be for those unions (who are bi-county) to bring Niagara Falls people on that job. They will bring Erie County workers.

"If you're lucky, 20 percent of the workers will come out of Niagara Falls. Twenty-five percent would be a real stretch.

"Mayor Dyster knows this and he should know that the truth comes out eventually, either the hard way or the easy way.

"The idea that Niagara Falls residents will build the train station, it just doesn't fly."



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Apr16, 2013