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Gilbane now meeting local employment ordinance on high school project

Posted by Alix Roy  June 23, 2010 11:04 AM

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With school out for the summer, construction on high school renovation has increased and with it, the number of Malden residents employed on the project.

According to Gilbane Corporate Communications director Wes Cotter, 64 percent of project hours are currently being completed by Malden residents, far exceeding the requirements set by Malden's Resident Employment Ordinance, which requires 35 percent of all project hours be completed by local workers.

“Of the 45 trades people on the project, 29 are Malden residents,” Cotter wrote in an e-mail.

City Council President Paul DiPietro said he was pleased to see such a large jump in compliance. Previous numbers hovered around the 26 percent mark, up from just 19 percent in May.

“It's very enlightening and uplifting to have such a compliance move,” he said. “I attribute that to the  Resident Employment Monitoring Committee as well as our working together with [Gilbane's Residential Monitoring Coordinator] John Furlong.”

Last week, members of the Malden Ordinance Committee questioned why legal action hadn't been taken against Gilbane Building Inc. after a year of non-compliance.

According to City Solicitor Kathryn Fallon, who attended the committee meeting last Tuesday, Gilbane could have filed a request to waive the ordinance at the beginning of the project. By not doing so, and failing to satisfy the law, Gilbane effectively violated its contract with the City of Malden, she said.

“No matter how you look at this it's a straightforward breach of contract,” she said last week. “I don't understand why that isn't in the forefront of their minds.”

The city ordinance allows for fines of up to $300 per day for noncompliant contractors. At last week's meeting, Councilor Neil Kinnon questioned why over $100,000 in fines was being left on the table.

“As a citizen, I want to know why the hell it's not being billed,” he said. “I think the citizens ought to be suing us to go get their money.”

A motion by Councilor Neal Anderson to authorize billing was tabled until Fallon can report back to the committee on any court cases launched as a result of similar violations in other communities.
“I'd roll the dice in court,” Fallon said.

On Wednesday,  DiPietro said he would be hesitant to impose fines given the improvement shown by Gilbane.

“The threat of the fines is a good tool ... for compliance,” he said. “But to fine people who are trying to do the right thing is, I think, a little counter productive.”

“If the numbers start to slip, the heat with be on,” he added.

Ward 4 Councilor Jim Nestor said despite recent improvements, Gilbane still fails to satisfy the ordinance in terms of overall project hours.

“They're meeting the ordinance today or maybe this month but they can't meet the ordinance for the whole time they've been on the project,” he said. “They still have failed the citizens of Malden.''

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