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Carpenters union to support workers in Cambridge, highlight abuse by contractors requiring legislative action Posted by on

Carpenters union to support workers in Cambridge, highlight abuse by contractors requiring legislative action

What: Mass demonstration against Callahan, Inc, a construction contractor with a history of hiring subcontractors who break the law.

Who: The New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC), the Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC) and Community Labor United (CLU)

When: 4pm, Wednesday, March 18.

Where: 165 Cambridgepark Drive, Cambridge, site where construction of a $45 million 244-unit apartment building is ongoing.

callahantruth.com

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters will be joined by additional labor and community groups on Wednesday as it protests the use of Callahan, Inc. as the construction manager for a new apartment building being developed in Cambridge. The action will begin at 4 pm on Wednesday with a march to the job at 165 Cambridgepark Drive from the Alweife MBTA station.

“You can tell a lot about Callahan by the company they keep. They’ve regularly hired subcontractors who have brought with them death, tax fraud and lawsuits,” said John Cusack, Business Representative for Carpenters Local 40. “The action of Callahan and its subcontractors cost every single taxpayer in the Commonwealth millions of dollars. Nearly $56 million in lost revenue has been collected in Massachusetts since 2008 because of issues like those that are commonly found on Callahan, Inc. sites. That money and more should have been going to pay for schools, municipalities and safety nets for workers. Callahan, Inc is not the kind of contractor Cambridge wants building housing.”

Callahan, Inc. was the subject of lengthy litigation over their controversial qualification to bid a high school project in Hanover, during which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that they had “knowingly made false or misleading statements of material fact in the SOQ (Statement of Qualification) with the intention of misleading the prequalification committee.”

Callahan’s behavior is not just a concern of workers, unions and individual taxpayers. The behavior of the company and their subcontractors undermines the ability of both union and nonunion construction companies who comply with the law to competitively bid projects. Visit callahantruth.com for a documented history.

Repeated abuse in the construction industry has prompted calls for stronger laws and enforcement at the state level. Representative Aaron Michlewitz and Senator Sal DiDomenico have sponsored HD 1833 and SD 673, respectively. “An act to prevent wage theft and promote employer accountability” is supported by NERCC, the GBLC, CLU and many other labor and community groups.





More taxpayer money wasted in Hanover Posted by on

Statement issued by Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters regarding today’s decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Hanover v New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

We always knew the Town’s case was baseless, and was just retaliation for helping to organize the taxpayer lawsuit over the new High School a few years ago. The Massachusetts Supreme Court agreed.

The way the Town of Hanover has handled this has been disappointing from the start. Despite being given information that should have led them to do otherwise, they have instead wasted taxpayer dollars to defend giving a contract to a contractor that lied to them and attack those who wanted to protect the Town.

The Town ignored serious flaws in the bidding process, defended a contractor they should have been dismissing, and then tried to retaliate after citizens exercised their constitutional rights to challenge the Town’s actions.

In dismissing the Town’s lawsuit, the Court was applying a state statute that is designed to protect parties from retaliation or punishment for exercising their constitutional rights. And the Court essentially concluded that’s just what the Town was doing in suing the Carpenters Union.

The real question for the residents of Hanover is: “How could the Town have wasted taxpayer resources to pursue a case like this in the first place, given its obvious failings?” And now, the Town will not only have its own legal bills to pay, but it will have to pay the Carpenters Union’s legal expenses as well.

UPDATE: The Boston Business Journal and Quincy Patriot Ledger/Hanover Mariner published stories on the case.
 





Carpenters demonstrating against Callahan Posted by on

A large group of carpenters are demonstrating on Newbury Street in Boston today against Callahan, Inc. The Bridgewater-based contractor is renovating a building that will feature housing and retail space. The company has a history of undermining industry standards for carpenters' wages and benefits. The company has been debarred for making misleading statements to qualify for a project and is embroiled in a controversial project with the South Shore YMCA in Quincy.

The South Shore YMCA recently selected Callahan for a new building project. This despite more than $100,000 worth of labor union carpenters had donated to two previous building projects and recieved a commitment from the Y. The Y was recently blasted for its decision-making and ethics by a series of stories in the Quincy Patriot-Ledger. Local 424 Business Manager followed up with a Letter to the Editor:

"The recent disclosure of questionable ethics on the part of YMCA board members comes as no real surprise to the carpenters union. During the general contractor selection process for the Quincy project, we asked that the process pass reasonable standards of integrity and honesty. Instead, they chose Callahan, Inc., a contractor determined to have lied under oath to qualify to bid on a school project in Hanover , where there were multiple violations of state and federal law.


"In the past few years, members and apprentices of the carpenters union have donated over $100,000 in free labor to the South Shore YMCA for work done at the Germantown Community Center and Camp Burgess . Yet we, often described as overpaid, were denied a legitimate opportunity to work on the new YMCA, while insiders collected over $2 million in fees. The Y’s mission statement reads in part; “To put Christian principles into practice…” I think they forgot."

In Hanover, Callahan was found to have made misleading statements to justify its qualifications to bid on construction of a new High School. The town successfully fought to have put aside opinions by the Attorney General's office and a suit brought by union carpenters in Hanover that the project should be rebid. Though Callahan was awarded the job, they were debarred from bidding public work as a result of their actions and the project was not without further problems.

Two subcontractors working on the Hanover High School project for Callahan, Inc. were cited for violations of wage and hour reporting laws. Action Floors was issued a $2,000 penalty for intentionally failing to submit true and accurate certified payroll while Superior Foundations was found to have intentionally failed to pay proper prevailing wages on the project. Superior has been issued a $2,000 penalty for the violations and order to pay $3,802.94 in restitution to workers who were cheated. Superior was also cited for prevailing wage violations for work they did at the Swansea Police station.





Bad guys nailed in Mass, Conn Posted by on

Enforcement agencies in Connecticut and Massachusetts this week moved against contractors who have been violating laws in ways that undermine the ability of honest union carpenters and contractors to compete.

The Department of Labor in Connecticut performed a random on-site inspection of an AvalonBay job in Wilton, Connecticut, finding an out of state subcontractor who didn't have workers' compensation coverage. The employees of the company were sent home and will not be allowed to work on the site until they can prove proper coverage.

A representative of AvalonBay told the Norwalk Hour he expected the problem to be remedied soon, but did not indicate how they were able to work on the job without coverage in the first place.

Workers comp coverage should be of significant concern for AvalonBay, given their history in New England. Not long after OSHA had issued a series of citations for serious violations of fall protection regulations on jobs being built for AvalonBay, a 27-year old carpenter named Oscar Pintado fell to his death on an AvalonBay job in Woburn, Mass. He was working for a framing contractor which managed 150 wood framers. All of them, including Pintado, were listed as "independent contractors," meaning they were not covered by workers' compensation. His family was not eligible for any benefits or compensation.

In Massachusetts, the Attorney General's office reached a settlement agreement with Vincent Locke and his company V. Locke Contracting, Inc. over a string of violations for which they will pay a total of $100,000 in fines and restitution to workers.

After receiving a complaint that workers were not being paid the proper prevailing wage, Attorney General Martha Coakley's office began an investigation. Locke and V. Locke agreed to a settlement which cites them for intentionally violating the Prevailing Wage Law by failing to pay the prevailing wage to 35 employees. They are also being cited for violating Prevailing Wage Records Keeping Laws, violating the Independent contractor law by misclassifying employees as independent contractors and violating Overtime Law. Each of the citations cover violations that occurred from January 2008 through the investigation.

Locke and his company have agreed to make payments totaling $90,000 to workers and to pay the state $2,500 for each of the four citations. They will also be debarred from bidding on or performing any public work for a period of six months.

Also yesterday, Coakley's office reported that two subcontractors working on the Hanover High School project for Callahan, Inc. have been cited for violations of wage and wage reporting laws. Action Floors has been issued a $2,000 penalty for intentionally failing to submit true and accurate certified payroll while Superior Foundations was found to have intentionally failing to pay proper prevailing wages on the Hanover High School project. Superior was also cited for prevailing wage violations while working on the Swansea Police Station. Superior has been issued a $2,000 penalty for the violations and order to pay $3,802.94 in restitution to workers who were cheated.

The Hanover High School project has been a source of controversy for years. After fighting to win local approval to fund construction of a new building, local authorities came under fire for ignoring or excusing misleading statements Callahan, Inc made to justify it's qualifications for the project. The Town successfully fought to have put aside opinions by the Attorney General's office and a suit brought by union carpenters in Hanover that the project should be rebid. Treasurer Tim Cahill, who's office was in control of funding for the project, refused repeated requests to intervene.





Hanover SJC arguments up for viewing online Posted by on

The arguments before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding Callahan, Inc the handling of prequalification and award of the Hanover (Mass) High School to Callahan, Inc are now available for viewing online at this site. The case is Fordyce v Town of Hanover.

The protest, filed by ten union members who are residents of the town, alleges that Callahan, Inc committed fraud when it took credit for another company’s work and should be removed from the job. The Massachusetts Attorney General joined the members as a party to the suit. They had previously issued an opinion that Callahan, Inc had misled the town, a ruling which the Town ignored.

Three contractors associations--Associated General Contractors (AGC), Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM) and the Utitility Contractors Association of New England (UCANE)—all of which represent both union and nonunion contractors in the state, filed briefs with the court in support of the union’s position.

Their involvement, highlights the importance of this case not just to Hanover, but to the construction industry statewide. The CIM-UCANE brief, in particular, illustrates the ways in which the integrity of the public bidding system would be severely undermined should the events in Hanover be allowed to stand. The AGC brief is also instructive.

As to the cost and time delays the Town has consistently cited as a reason for pushing forward with Callahan, Inc., the job was not really begun when the AG issued its determination that Callahan, Inc had lied on its SOQ. Minor site clearing had been done and a temporary parking lot was built. Options other than continuing with Callahan were certainly available to the Town at that point and subsequent to that. Please refer to Note 4 of the CIM brief on page 12:

“It should be noted that the public bidding statutes contain an “emergency” provision that, under certain exigent circumstances, empowers an awarding authority to bid a contract in an expedited manner if necessary and appropriate to safeguard the awarding authority’s interest. SEE G.L. c. 149, S 44A Where, as here, the awarding authority is confronted with late-discovered bidding irregularities that it believes may threaten the timing of the project, this “emergency bidding provision” provides a more than adequate mechanism for promptly and expeditiously re-bidding the project or otherwise rectifying the irregularities at issue. The availability of this alternative procedure (as well as the clearly articulated goals of the public bidding laws) makes the alternative of proceeding with a tainted contract even less justifiable.”


A decision on the case is expected within a week. If the action of the Town to ignore the fraud by Callahan, Inc and award them the job is not reversed it could seriously undermine the integrity of the public bidding process throughout the Commonwealth.

 





Bid dispute over Hanover HS argued at Mass SJC today Posted by on

A suit regarding the bidding of work for construction of a Hanover, Massachusetts school was heard by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court this morning. At issue was whether the town acted improperly when it qualified and hired Callahan Construction for the work, despite their failure to meet legally mandated requirements.

Callahan appeared to mislead the awarding body when it took credit for a previous project that it did not complete. Further, the project did not fall within the three-year period required by law.

After the town awarded the job to Callahan, two lawsuits were filed against Hanover—one by an HVAC contractor, the other by ten residents of Hanover. Kirt Fordyce, a retired union carpenter and Business Agent from Local 424, was the lead complainant in the resident suit.

The Attorney General’s Office had advised Hanover to refrain from awarding the job, pending their review of the bid protest. Hanover ignored that request and awarded the job to Callahan. The town then also ignored a later finding by the Attorney General that Callahan had misled the town during the bid process and allowed the job to continue.

A Superior Court Judge then issued an injunction against the Town of Hanover preventing Callahan Construction from continuing work on a $37 million high school. The ruling found the suits clearly established a reasonable likelihood that Callahan had engaged in fraud in qualification documents, that the public interest favored issuing an injunction, and that any additional costs to the Town resulting from an injunction "would be the product of the Town's own doing."

An Appeals Court judge reversed that decision, at which time the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reached down and pulled the case from the appeals process.

Oral arguments will be available for viewing online at this site within four days. The case is KIRK [sic] FORDYCE & others vs. TOWN OF HANOVER & another. The docket number is SJC-10643.
 





Callahan cries to the press Posted by on

After a Superior Court Judge ruled that Callahan would not be able to proceed with construction of a Hanover high school because they purposely misled the town as to their qualifications, Callahan is trying to play the victim.

If they were so concerned about the taxpayers and students of Hanover, why did they feel the need to mislead them during the prequalification process?


TAGS: Callahan



Callahan, Hanover make news Posted by on

You might think with that much money at stake,when a contractor misled them, Hanover elected officials would be a little more upset with Callahan, rather than ignoring all the warnings and continuing to use them. Wouldn't you?

Shame on Callahan and shame on Hanover
.


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Judge tells Hanover: stop Callahan project Posted by on

A judge has issued an injunction in two cases against the Town of Hanover preventing Callahan Construction from continuing work on a $37 million high school. The ruling finds the suits clearly established a reasonable likelihood that Callahan had engaged in fraud in prequalification documents, that the public interest favored issuing an injunction, and that any additional costs to the Town resulting from an injunction "would be the product of the Town's own doing."

Two lawsuits were filed against Hanover—one by an HVAC contractor, the other by ten residents of Hanover. Kirt Fordyce, a retired union carpenter and Business Agent from Local 424, was the lead complainant in the resident suit. The suits were filed after the town awarded the job to Callahan despite their having claimed to have completed work that was done by another company.

The Attorney General’s Office advised Hanover to refrain from awarding the job, pending their review of the bid protest. Hanover ignored that request and awarded the job to Callahan. The town then also ignored a later finding by the Attorney General that Callahan had misled the town during the bid process and allowed the job to continue.

Superior Court Justice Richard Chin noted in his decision that: “Had the Town adhered to the AGO’s (Attorney General’s Office’s) decision and rejected Callahan’s bid, the Town could have availed itself of the bids of other prequalified contractors. By virtue of the bid protests, the AGO’s requests that work on the project be suspended, and the AGO’s ultimate decision, the Town was on notice that it could later be forced to rescind its contract with Callahan. However, it ignored this risk, awarded the contract to Callahan, and gave the contractor permission to commence work on the project. The Town cannot now be permitted to benefit from this ill-advised decision.”

The second and third lowest bidders for the project were union general contractors J&J Construction and Fontaine Brothers, respectively.


TAGS: Callahan