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The Somerville Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution condemning the use of Callahan Inc, and calling on developers who receive public subsidies to use responsible contractors who provide a living wage, health insurance, workers compensation, retirement benefits, and apprenticeship training to the workers that build their projects.
In particular, the resolution criticized Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) for selecting Callahan as the general contractor on their 448 unit apartment building in Assembly Row. The project received $73 million in direct and indirect public support from the City of Somerville and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and FRIT received numerous warnings from city and state elected officials, as well as residents and community organizations, that Callahan's lower bid was due to their reliance on subcontractors who utilize illegal and unethical business practices. However, the $9 billion company stated it could not afford to use union labor, and selected Callahan.
Now, the woodframing on the project is being performed by Force Corporation, a company that has been ordered to pay more than $3.9 million in back wages, fines, and fees over the last two months. "If FRIT had hired a responsible general contractor, all the various forms of public support for the project would not be benefiting contractors like Callahan and Force, whose business practices are antithetical to the public good," reads the resolution.
The resolution was sponsored by all 10 of the Aldermen who were present at the meeting, and many spoke on behalf of the resolution. "If [the project] is not making the quality of life better for the people in the city, than it's not meeting the goal that I'd like to see," said Ward 1 Alderman Matt McLaughlin.
Union carpenters and community members who live and work in Somerville were also present at the meeting. Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, addressed the Board, elaborating on the record of Callahan Inc and thanking the Board for their support.
Somerville joins communities around the area in urging developers to use responsible contractors and to look carefully at the records of general contractors like Callahan Inc. Callahan's business practices do not support a sustainable and healthy community, and area officials are rightly concerned about the impact these contractors have on their cities and towns. For more information about Callahan, visit callahantruth.com.