The dispute between labor and the developer of wind farm projects in the Town of Cohocton was put to rest Thursday.
Representatives from project developer UPC and the local Ironworkers council agreed on the use of local construction labor for the projects in the Dutch Hill and Lent Hill regions. The agreement was disclosed Thursday at a meeting of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency.
Union officials alleged last month UPC had reneged on its promise to hire local workers for the 51-turbine project. SCIDA delayed granting the company property tax breaks on the projects until the matter was resolved.
Despite the agreement, the board did not act Thursday on the request for tax breaks.
“I think they’ll wait for a little while, just to see for themselves,” said James Sherron, SCIDA executive director.
UPC Senior Projects Manager Lawrence Mott told the board 33 percent of the 110 workers now on the sites are local residents.
By mid-November, the firm expects a total of 93 local employees on site, with a total work force of 170, he said. Beginning in February 2008, 101 workers out of a total of 150 laborers will be local residents, according to Mott.
The project contractor, Minnesota-based MA Mortenson, has hired outside managers and supervisors already experienced in wind turbine construction, Mott said. Mortenson also hired three subcontractors from outside of the area, he said.
But UPC has oversight over several elements of the projects and intends to hire as many local workers as possible, Mott said.
Paul Sirianni, marketing representative for the state Iron Workers District Council in Rochester, told the board union objections arose from a misunderstanding that has since been ironed out.
“It costs a lot less to hire locals than pay for rooms and meals for transients,” Sirianni said.
Board members said they would require monitoring of the work force to ensure local labor use remains in line with Mott’s projections.
By Mary Perham
25 October 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding