By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO June 11, 2004 Local non-union contractors won a battle to bid on municipal contracts over $300,000 in the Village of Monticello on Monday.
The Village of Monticello Board voted 3-2 to reject a resolution which would require non-union contractors to join an apprentice program in order to bid on projects over $300,000.
With bids on a new village firehouse set to begin, the move could have shut out the contractors from the bidding process.
Trustees Ariel Escobar, Scott Schoonmaker and Brian Vandermark voted against the resolution. Mayor James Barnicle and Victor Marinello voted for it.
About 100 people packed village hall Monday evening. About 20 of them lined up the stairs without a view of the proceedings.
John Dollard, owner of the union shop Shalman Electric, claimed that the union had afforded his family a decent living and that union members made more money than non-union contractors.
One union representative claimed the issue wasnt between union workers and non-union workers, but about providing opportunities for young people, which he said the apprentice program does.
Our union constituents vote, he said. We do contribute to our political leaders.
One local non-union contractor, however, said most of the union members in the room were not from the village.
Dan Smalls, co-owner of non-union Small Plumbing and Heating, called the proposed resolution a discrimination issue right at the front of the bus, right at the back of the bus.
Furthermore, New York State covers the unions cost for the apprentice program but not for non-union businesses, he said.
His workers are paid at the same rate as union workers, based on state guidelines, he claimed.
The protections you need to get quality work are in order, he told the board. You dont need to send my workers to a school.
He pointed out that he is required to fill out a 45-page booklet describing his past work history when bidding on a municipal project, so that he can be covered by insurance and so that the municipality knows his business is reputable.
Before the vote, Barnicle offered to raise the minimum for the contracts if the consumer price index went up.
After the vote, there was a large applause from the audience. Smalls called the vote the right decision for the village.
After the meeting, Barnicle defended his vote.
Of the apprentice program, he said, I think it brings better trained people. . . . It guarantees local people work.
Marinello also backed up his decision: It was not a question of our local [non-union contractors] not being qualified but about educating youngsters to work.
So many reasons, explained Ariel Escobar on why he voted against the resolution. I felt it was the right decision.
After the vote, the board was set to discuss which streets had litter problems. However, trustee Victor Marinello identified Lloyd Lane and Atwell Lane as falling apart. But Mayor Barnicle intended the discussion to be about litter, thus tabling the matter.
When the public had a chance to speak, Betty Friedland, who lives between Lloyd and Atwell, continued to chastise the village for failing to fix the streets near where she lives, while they raised her taxes. And her water continues to be dirty. Friedland was not content with the villages response that it could not find grants to fix the water.
Friedland also called on the village to stop all of the tractor-trailers that are going all over the area. . . . They should not be in residential areas.
She also attacked a village proposal to allow certain village officials to live outside the village.
Mayor Barnicle and Village Manager Richard Sush have been working to turn the village treasurers position into a part-time position handled by Town of Thompson Comptroller Brenda Galligan. However, her salary and benefits would amount to over $40,000 in the budget for 2005.
Schoonmaker was not pleased with the proposal. In his view, the price tag was excessive, and he thought there would be a conflict of interest.
Barnicle responded that the village would still save about $20,000 as opposed to a full-time position.
Village resident Carmen Rue believed one of the conflicts of interest would emanate from the different checks the treasurer would sign, which go back and forth between the two governments.