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MERIDEN — The School Building Committee, joined by Mayor Manny Santos, questioned the efficacy of the project labor agreement at both Platt and Maloney high schools at its meeting Thursday.
Neither construction project has met the goals set forth in the labor agreement, goals that were set two years ago when the City Council approved it.
The agreement set goals that 30 percent of the total hours on each project would be worked by Meriden residents, 10 percent by minorities, 5 percent by women, and 5 percent by veterans. The agreement also stipulates that the hiring be done through union referrals.
Through June at Maloney, city residents have worked 20 percent of the work hours, and to date at Platt, it’s been 22 percent of the work hours.
Santos questioned Thursday whether there was more that union presidents could be doing to attract city workers, citing a recent program in which a labor union partnered with Wilcox Technical High School to initiate and train recent graduates.
Before any of the committee members or project representatives could respond, Committee Chairman Matthew C. Dominello asked if Santos could speak during the meeting, as the public participation portion had already passed.
Santos referenced the City Charter, which states that as mayor, he is considered an ex-officio member of the City Council. The School Building Committee was formed by the City Council, and as such, Santos said he has a right to discuss issues past the public portion of the meeting.
The charter states: “The Mayor may attend any meeting of any board, commission or other governmental body of the City ... He or she shall have the full right of participation in discussions but shall not have the right to vote.”
Committee members responded that they had been tracking the project labor agreement numbers at their meetings, and had expressed the same frustration as the mayor that they weren’t being met.
“It sounds like the issue is that there aren’t enough Meriden union members to work,” Committee Member Bruce Fontanella said.
Glen Lamontagne, an adviser to the committee, added that in the masonry unions in particular, every city resident is working, but it’s simply not enough to meet the 30 percent goal.
“If you look at the other unions, they’re pretty much all at 30 percent. It’s just the masons who are really lacking Meriden workers,” Lamontagne said.
“I would just encourage all unions to do what’s being done there,” Santos said of the labor union.
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