UNION: We were left out of biddingCOMPANY REP: Process was fair
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 08/9/07
BY MATT PAIS
STAFFORD — They've been fighting the heat and humidity of the dog days of August for weeks, and say they won't let up until their voices are heard.
A collection of union workers are making their displeasure at the site of a future BJ's Wholesale Club known on a daily basis, picketing the job site at the corner of Martin Truex Jr. Boulevard and McKinley Avenue.
Members of carpenters union local 2018 and electrical workers local 400 claim they were unfairly excluded from the bidding to work on the project that will bring the first wholesale club to southern Ocean County.
"This contractor is non-union, and he doesn't pay area standard wages or health care," said Seymour Kahn, business agent for the carpenters union.
Kahn said he organized the picket as a way for union members to voice their displeasure with being excluded from taking part in the latest in a series of commercial developments along the McKinley Avenue corridor.
"This is a standard informational picket. We are the public, and we want the public to know (this job) is non-union," he said.
Julie Somers, a spokeswoman for BJ's Wholesale, said the company does not conduct the bidding process for construction. That job is left to the independent contractor hired to do the work.
She declined to identify the contractor being used in Stafford, as did workers at the job site.
"We hire these contractors because they have a proven track record. They execute quality work in a timely, cost-effective manner. They are looking for people who do the same," Somers said.
Somers disputes Kahn's claim that union workers were excluded from bidding.
"The bidding process is a competitive one. The contractor for Manahawkin did in fact include union labor in the bidding process," she said. "BJ's does not have a preference as to whether it's union or non-union labor. In a competitive marketplace, we want our contractors to choose the best labor for the job."
Kahn, however, disputes that claim, and says the union-standard price tag of $54.13 an hour including benefits was too pricey for the national chain.
"The bottom line is money," he said. "BJ's says it was competitive and (awarded to) the lowest bid. We're just making the statement that we were never given an opportunity."
Matt Pais: (609) 978-4582 or firstname.lastname@example.org