Carpenters Council Files Bid Protest on Hill School; May Delay Groundbreaking

February 19, 2014
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Groundbreaking on the new Hill School could be imperiled if a bid protest by the New England Council of Carpenters makes any traction at the Attorney General’s Office.

Organizers for the Carpenters – which represents 28,000 workers in New England, including Revere – said they had filed an official bid protest with the AG late last week to hold up the project until it is re-bid.

At issue is the decade-old Revere Residency Ordinance, which the City did not include in its bid documents due to the fact that it doesn’t believe the ordinance is legal.

The Carpenters don’t agree and said in every other school or public project Revere has always included the ordinance – which is a union-friendly ordinance requiring a set number of Revere residents to be hired on the job and to held fund a training program on the job.

“We don’t want to stall a job,” said Carpenter’s Organizer Steve Falvey. “We don’t want to hold it up. The City thinks they’re going to get in the ground quickly on this, so we have to protest it. Revere has never done business like this before. We only want them to follow their ordinance. We want this re-bid with the ordinance in the bid documents…Every school project and even on the Public Safety facility, which the same contractor also built, they’ve always used the ordinance until now. They told us they no longer have a residency ordinance.”

Falvey and union officials are protesting on the streets also, displaying a large sign at City Hall last Friday and making the rounds to local political leaders.

Meanwhile, City Solicitor Paul Capizzi said the ordinance was, in fact, not included in the documents, but only because the City believes that the ordinance has been ruled illegal.

Capizzi said he informed Falvey and the Carpenters in December about a 2011 federal court case between Fall River and the Utility Contractors Association of New England (UCANE). That case essentially made Revere’s ordinance, and others like it, moot. However, he said the ordinance hasn’t been repealed, but is no longer being used.

“Essentially, the court ruled that Fall River’s residency quotas discriminate against out-of-state residents and were not justified by any facts argued by Fall River,” Capizzi wrote in December. “The court found Fall River’s [ordinance] invalid because it impedes a fundamental right under the Constitution’s Privileges and Immunities Clause. Accordingly, in order to avoid delays, lawsuits, and uncertainty in our bidding process, Revere is no longer applying its Revere Residents Construction Employment Ordinance. The ordinance wasn’t repealed pending any challenge, which could alter the outcome. However, to date, as far as I’m aware, [the case] is still good authority.”

Falvey said they also have issues with the Hill School General Contractor, CTA.

“They had the best bid because they beat the system,” he said. “They’re not getting a great deal on materials or have a special deal to get some savings. They’re low because they beat the system. That’s why eight people pre-qualified to be the general contractor and only three put in their papers.”

Capizzi said a similar situation happened with the Town of Somerset involving its residency ordinance.

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