On October 28, 2010 The National Capital Jobs Coalition, NCJC conducted a public education job action at the present construction site on Rhode Island Avenue. The so called Rhode Island METRO project. We used the sidewalk and stayed on public property. In no way did we interfere with the project. A representative of the company came out to talk to us and presented their position that Bozzuto is in compliance with First Source legislation. The company took pictures of all marchers and we, took pictures of them.
Let us state categorically that NCJC"s issue is not about compliance. It is about fairness in both the letter and spirit of the city’s relationship with its taxpayers and its vendors. We do not expect any Commercial Construction Company to pay more for labor than absolutely necessary. However … The First Source agreement calls for signatories to pay a "... living wage." The use of non employee contractors to evade this provision appears to be common practice.
The following is based upon information provided by Bozzuto Construction Company. In September there were 168 people working on the site at Rhode Island Avenue. The total number of DC workers employed was 26.
The common belief, fostered by official sources is that 51% of all new hires for this project will be from The District. In fact, from our perspective it is an entirely different picture.. 26 is 15.5% of the workforce not 51% as commonly held. This is a projected 107 million dollar project with 168 people employed with only 26 from the district. This is patently unfair. Where is the economic benefit to the people of the district.
Why is this possible? It is because the construction contractor uses out-of-city “sub-contractors”. It is a strategy devised to limit employment of DC labor and to maximize profit.
This is how developers and contractors evade obeying the law. The sub-contractors present documents that show they already have their day laborers or regulars "on staff", This allows them to avoid hiring DC residents. These, so called, existing staff are therefore exempt from the First Source rules. An additional benefit of this strategy is that the construction company and contractors don't have to pay the required wages/benefits, as called for in the First Source agreement. … and this is how 15% becomes 51%.
We are advocating for stronger legislation that would prevent these “strategies”. Everyone wants developers in DC to be profitable. It is in no one’s best interest to make the district a no profit zone. We seek only fairness and a level playing field for all parties to this issue. This is why NCJC held a public job action to educate and inform the people of the district about the hundreds of thousands of dollars being drained from our economy by carpet bagging construction contractors who blatantly lie about the numbers, the labor force, and the relationship with their, "so called" employee. In fairness we need to say that we have no hard evidence of this practice on the part of The Bozzuto Construction Company. We do intend to watch them and others to determine of and how hiring practices effect the people of our city.