Why Polar Park and the Kelly Square Development Should Be Constructed with Skilled, Reliable Union Labor
As the City of Worcester and its residents anticipate and plan for one of the city’s most important and dynamic developments in its long and storied history – the construction of the Worcester Red Sox Polar Park, as well as the surrounding development and redesign of Kelley Square, the highly skilled electricians of Worcester’s electrical union, IBEW Local 96, and our union’s signatory contractors are uniquely well-qualified to adeptly handle the project and its many challenges with on-time, on-budget electrical construction services that also meet the highest standards of quality and safety. There are a myriad of reasons why it is vital for the construction project to be undertaken by union labor, the most critical of them being the unparalleled skill and experience of our contractors and our electricians. Here are just some of the many benefits that IBEW Local 96 signatory electrical contractors and our member electricians should be called upon to handle the project.
- The size, scope, complexity, and workforce requirements of Polar Park and the Kelley Square development demands electrical contractors and their electricians and technicians to have experience, capacity, and capabilities to effectively handle the work. Local 96 has nearly 200 electrical contractors that are signatory to our union and more than 400 local member electricians and technicians.
- IBEW Local 96 has the most highly skilled, diverse, local workforce. Many Local 96 members are Worcester-based residents, and virtually all come from the Greater Worcester area and Central Massachusetts. In addition, a number of Local 96 signatory contractors are also Worcester-based. The Local 96 workforce is diverse, with a growing number of our electricians and technicians coming from minority backgrounds (African American, Hispanic, Asian), as well as women.
- The training of the skilled IBEW Local 96 electrical workforce is unparalleled in the electrical industry. The union’s Worcester Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (WJATC) Electrical Training program spans 5 years – 800 hours of classroom training on electrical theory and safety training and 10,000 hours of on-the-job training in the field to achieve journeyman status. This is greater than the state of Massachusetts’ mandated 8,000 hours. Local 96 VDV technicians receive 3 years schooling and 8,000 hours of field training.
- Local 96 also holds our contractors to a higher standard in the journeymen to apprentice electrician ratio on all projects than that which is mandated by the state. We require 3 journeymen to 2 apprentices on jobsites, while the state requires a 1 to 1 ratio.
- Code of Excellence Training – In January, 2019, 111 IBEW Local 96 members (journeymen and apprentices) received certification in Code of Excellence Training at our Worcester Union Hall. Nearly 80% of our electricians and technicians have now received Code of Excellence Training. This training is mandated by the union and assures the City of Worcester, as well as all owners, developers, and facility managers, on projects of all complexities, that when hiring Local 96 contractors and electricians, they will have:
– Workers that perform the highest quality and quantity of work;
– Workers that utilize their skills and abilities to the maximum;
– Workers that exercise the industry’s safest and most productive work practices.
- Continuing Education for Local 96 electricians and technicians is indeed continuous — Local 96 electricians receive National Electrical Code updates, Safety Training, as well as training in new technologies.
Our union is a vital part of the fabric of the City of Worcester’s community, having been a solid and good corportate citizen for 118 years, building and renovating many of the City’s historic buildings, as well as constructing most of the major commercial, healthcare and educational buildings and facilities in Worcester. The project list is extensive, and includes such facilities as: Mechanics Hall; the DCU Center (formerly the Worcester Centrum); UMASS Medical Center; most of The College of the Holy Cross sports, educational and residential facilities, including the Hart Center, the college’s new sports practice facility, Fitton Stadium, the Integrated Sciences Complex (Smith Labs and the renovation of Haberlin Hall); Foisie Innovation Studio and Messenger Hall at WPI; many facilities at Clark University; Worcester Regional Airport facilities including the state-of-the-art CAT III Landing System and Taxiway Expansion which has greatly enhanced the airport’s safe, reliable operation; and expansion of service via Jet Blue to New York and beyond; Abbvie Labs; upgrades of the City of Worcester’s streetlighting to LED; the 8.1MW Worcester Solar Landfill saving approximately $2,000,000 in annual electrical costs for Worcester (about 20% of the City’s annual electrical budget while providing clean, renewable energy to hundreds of homes). These projects, and countless others, managed by union signatory electrical contractors, are provided with the highest industry quality and safety standards, meeting the City’s and private developers and construction managers most demanding requirements for on-time, on-budget performance. The list goes on and on, far to broad a list to include all here.
Local 96 is dedicated to the betterment of the City of Worcester and our residents, providing hundreds of hours of community service every year. In fact, all Local 96 apprentices must complete 6 hours of community service each year (30 hours in all) to graduate — the union presently has approximately 100 apprentices — that amounts to 600 hours per year that our union dedicates to the betterment of the City and our residents. Worcester Community Service projects include:
- The Worcester Fire Safety Initiative — Local 96 members worked with the American Red Cross to provide smoke detector installations to homes and residents thoughout the city;
- Coes pond Clean-up and Coes Pond Family Day (Local 96 cooked over 1000 hot dogs and supplied the grill, tables and chairs);
- Friendly House Clean-up and Renovations for the educational, social and family betterment of the residents of the city Worcester;Worcester Works projects — cleaning up various parks throughout the City with Holy Cross students;
- St. Bernard’s Church Clean-up efforts contributions;
- Contribution to the AIDS project in Worcester;
- Maintenance at the Nazareth Home for Boys;
- Community service The Mustard Seed soup kitchen;
- Habitat for Humanity projects are currently In the planning stages.
The benefits of having Local 96 union electrical contractors and electricians provide unparalleled work quality and safety standards to the Polar Park development are indeed many. They will lead to a better project, a stronger local economy, and assure the project is done on-time and on-budget.
While we prefer to focus on the benefits of Polar Park being constructed with union labor, we unfortunately must also reference that non-union “open shop” subcontactors have been involved in numerous violations of State Labor Laws, most recently at the $90 million luxury apartment development at 145 Front, City Square in Worcester, where a New Jersey-based subcontractor was required to pay more than $158,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 50 employees for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. The contractor also must pay a $33,800 civil penalty. Also, in 2017, in a Worcester public streetlighting repair project, the now-dissolved Wilmington Wiring, a non-union electrical contractor was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution and penalties for failing to pay non-union employees working on the project.As reported in the Worcester Telegram, in the period from August 2016 – August 2017, the Fair Labor Division of Massachusetts issued 85 citations against 36 employers engaged in prevailing wage projects totaling more than $2 million in restitution and penalties. The division also fielded more than 17,000 calls from the public and received more than 5,000 wage and hour complaints.
In closing, IBEW Local 96 welcomes the opportunity to meet the project requirements for the state-of-the-art Polar Park and the surrounding Kelley Square development. It is a project that will ensure a bright future for Worcester and our neighboring communities in Central Massachusetts.