Non-union group asks for reconsideration of SHS agreement

A group representing non-union construction companies is asking for town officials to reconsider a labor agreement attached to the renovation of Stratford High School.

Chris Syrek, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Connecticut, said in a recent interview that the trade association wants the Town Council to reconsider its approval of a Project Labor Agreement for the SHS renovation project.

Syrek said the terms of the agreement, known as a PLA, will cut non-union contractors out of the project, including contractors in Stratford who would like to take part.  The lack of competition means the SHS renovation may go over budget, Syrek said.

“It will be union-only, which will drive down competition,” Syrek said “We see this when PLAs are used. There are a lot of examples of PLAs [where the project] goes over budget because there is not a lot of competition on the bids.”

The Town Council voted unanimously on Feb. 14 to approve the PLA. Union members from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 488 filled the Council chambers and endorsed the PLA during the top board’s public forum. Union members noted that a PLA was in place for construction of Victoria Soto School and that the school was completed on time and under budget. 

Syrek said he has sent letters to the Town Council and the Building Needs Committee asking for reconsideration of the PLA.

“We ask that at the end of the day, open this up to everyone,” he said. “There will be more fair competition and likely save taxpayers money.”

The SHS renovation project, which will include construction of a new wing west of King Street and renovations to the existing building, is expected to cost nearly $126 million. Stratford expects to be reimbursed for about 60% of the cost.

Stay with the Stratford Star for more information on this story.

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Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

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