Bridge to use union labor

TICONDEROGA - The construction of a new Lake Champlain Bridge in Crown Point will be a union project after all.

Even though New York and Vermont rejected a project labor agreement (PLA) on the new bridge construction, Flatiron Construction Inc., recently signed a private PLA.

Flatiron, based in Colorado, was awarded the bridge contract for $69.9 million.

Because the construction of the bridge is fast-paced and highly technical, Flatiron spokeswoman Christie DeLuca said, the company wants to make sure it hires qualified workers.

"The bridge also incorporates a unique design. The main stand is a technically challenging tied-arch center, which requires specific qualifications to perform the work. So flatiron signed a PLA so the unions would help assist them in finding employees that have the necessary experience for that highly technical work," she said.

Workers must apply for jobs through the union hiring halls, DeLuca said, but that does not mean they are required to be a union member.

"The way it works is local people go to the union halls to put in their application and the union halls are then required to refer any applicants that are qualified. They (applicants) don't necessarily need to be union and they are not required to join the union, but they will have the option to," she said.

Non-union workers will still have to pay union dues because the union is still required to represent them, but DeLuca said the dues are less then they would be for a union member.

The PLA does not change the workers' wages, DeLuca said. Every worker will still be paid the prevailing wage rate established by the Department of Labor and the State of New York.

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