By Rosalie Tirella
I’m a blue-collar gal through and through. As working class as you can get!
I grew up working class/poor in Worcester’s Green Island neighborhood. My beloved Polish grandfather worked his whole life in the Dudley textile mills, PROUDLY joining the union there; my mother worked 6O!! hours a week at the old Oscar’s Cleaners on Millbury Street – a dry cleaners. For minimum wage, courtesy of cheapskates, the ASADOURIAN FAMILY, her whole life! EXPLOITED to the max.
I grew up around construction guys, day laborers. Exploited too.
My grandfather was an excellent carpenter, building this huge porch swing for my Bapy, which proudly swung on our Lafayette Street front porch for years… He was always making things… stools, benches, even tin cups…
For five years I went out with the Old Injun Fighter (OIF) a contractor/ handyman/ carpenter who loved doing “finish work,” could put a porch on a house, put in a bathroom, and, yes, build a little home, if he needed to. He’s from blue collar Lynn, where his dad worked in the leather factories there. (His mother was a photographer for one of the city’s department stores. She was artistic, beautiful, mercurial/crazy … and ahead of her time…)
I put out InCity Times, which requires a lot of blue color LOCOMOTION! Such as delivering thousands of ICT newspapers every two weeks, running around selling ads, dealing with printing guys, knowing about skids, and lifts, and using your back the right way.
AS FAR AS WCLC AND ITS REQUESTS OF THE CITY of Worcester, REGARDING THE LABOR AT THE OLD COURTHOUSE and Brady Sullivan developers from New Hampshire I say:
YES! to the WCLC list!
Because, and I speak from experience/ a deep knowledge:
Lots of developers and contractors EXPLOIT workers. If they can get a borderline homeless neighborhood guy to do grunt construction work for $8 or ten bucks an hour, they will. The guy may have a drinking problem, he may collect social security disability, he may even have a drug problem. Still … he is a body to exploit, someone to haul crap away, dig holes…He is dispensable. He is a sitting duck. HE WILL SAY YES. THIS ENABLES THE CONTRACTOR to save a TON of money by not going with a reputable shop that pays its laborers around 20 bucks an hour and its professional carpenters, bricklayers, etc even more $$$$.
CONTRACTORS HATE PAYING workers compensation. It’s expensive. The OIF will do it BECAUSE IT’S THE LAW AND IF CAUGHT BREAKING THE LAW HE WILL HAVE TO STOP WORK AND PAY A FINE, BUT HE HATES IT. If contractors can wiggle around the law, and not get caught, many will. TOUGH LUCK TO THE WORKER WHO FALLS OFF A ROOF AND BREAKS A LEG or trips on a cable and slips in the mud and cracks his head or drowns in the mud as a huge hole, without proper supports, fills up.
Which leads me to my next point … Construction worker is THE MOST DANGEROUS JOB THERE IS.
Not firefighter, not cops, BUT CONSTRUCTION WORKER. Hundreds die or are critically injured every year.
BUILDING STUFF. Working on HUGE TRUCKS, working on scaffolding, working with drills and nail guns. Work sites run by slip shod contractors are booby traps, death traps. I know a great gifted carpenter who lost an eye on a job! Heartbreaking.
More guys die fixing buildings, building tunnels, digging holes, etc than fighting fires, etc. THE OLD INJUN FIGHTER NEVER LET ME FORGET THIS.
CONTRACTORS often hire illegal immigrants and exploit these fearful folks TO THE MAX. SOMETIMES ITS CLOSE TO SLAVE LABOR. This allows them to undercut legit shops and get the job…2. make more $$$. Contractors love to make money!
Several times in Worcester, at the GREENWOOD STREET PRICE CHOPPER supermarket, later at night, I saw several contractors in their vans coming out with wagons full of groceries. One guy: HE OPENED THE VAN BACK DOOR. I saw a huge group of laborers inside the van sitting on their haunches – they were dark skinned…They took the food. He slammed the door. I WAS MORTIFIED.
Slave labor. Does anyone NOT believe this still goes in?? … here, too?
WHEN CONTRACTORS HIRE AND EXPLOIT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS THEY CHARGE the developer/customer as much as ONE THIRD TO A HALF less $$$ than a legit contractor who is FOLLOWING THE LAWS AND PAYING INTO WORKERS COMP, PAYING a living wage etc. does.
This gets them the job because their labor costs hit rock bottom, which they pass on to their customers. They undercut the union shops following the rules, paying their guys living wages.
This happens a lot in ROOFING (South American workers exploited here) and HARDWOOD FLOORING (Vietnamese workers here) .
The groups that are trying to educate WORCESTER CITY COUNCILORS, people like JACK DONAHUE OF THE CARPENTERS UNION, are not making stuff up.
They know, hands on, just how rotten things can be.
They are not commie lowlife hipsters trying to undermine America.
They are good family men, good standing members of the community. They live in Worcester and want what’s best for her.
THEY ARE FIGHTING FOR AMERICA AND THE AMERICAN WAY. (Not unlike Superman!)
We, as a city, need to develop the Worcester Courthouse, but NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE WORCESTER WORKER, LABOR LAWS, GOOD WAGES, A SAFE WORK SITE. The courthouse is a gem in a great safe Worcester neighborhood. The Worcester Art museum, Institute Park, WPI, the Worcester Historical Museum’s mansion are all in this great neighborhood. THERE WILL BE OTHER DEVELOPERS, if Brady Sullivan walks away. WE JUST NEED TO MARKET THE BUILDING WITH THE NEIGHBORHOOD and DO IT AGGRESSIVELY!
The carpenters union guys are GOOD GUYS supporting the American right to work safely and legally at a work site while MAKING A LIVING WAGE.
Worcester city councilors Ric Rushton, Joe Petty, George Russell, Phil Palmieri, Konnie Lukes, Tony Economou and colleagues must RESPECT where Donahue and his colleagues are coming from. BECAUSE THEY ARE SPEAKING TRUTH TO $$$/POWER.
The Worcester City Council must support the WCLC’ s recommendations tomorrow night!