Newsmaker of the week, Local 138 President Bill Duffy Jr


by Newsmakers
August 3, 2012

Bill Duffy Jr., president of Local 138 of the Operating Engineers, stirred up a hornet's nest this week when he announced his union would negotiate directly with Heartland Town Square developer Jerry Wolkoff on jobs for the proposed $4 billion mega-project. 

Duffy, whose group left the Nassau Suffolk Building Trades Council in 2011 but re-joined the umbrella organization this year, split with the council by making the announcement. 

It caused council President James Castellane to draft a letter to the rest of the building trades urging them to "stay strong" in their insistence on a project labor agreement with Wolkoff once work begins on the 460-acre development that combines 9,100 rental apartments, more than 1 million square feet of retail space and more than 3 million square feet of offices. Heartland is expected to create at least 1,500 construction jobs annually throughout its 17-year build out. 

Among other things, project labor agreements set the wage rates and benefits of all employees working on a particular project and also serve to prevent strikes, lockouts or other work stoppages. 

Wolkoff has been steadfast in his resistance to signing a PLA, instead stating that the Heartland project would be built with "mostly union" workers. He is also on the record in support of the Town of Islip's new construction wage law that requires 90 percent of workers to be from Nassau or Suffolk and mandates that contractors on major projects have plans for an apprenticeship program. 

Duffy, meanwhile, has been progressive in trying to get jobs for his union members. Local 138 recently cut its labor rates by 15 percent to be more competitive.

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