2016-09-01 / Front Page

Painters picket in front of Bablon Jr-Sr High School

Union leader John Shepard, right and other union members picket outside of Babylon Junior Senior High School last week.Union leader John Shepard, right and other union members picket outside of Babylon Junior Senior High School last week.By Carolyn James

Representatives for the Painters District Council No. 9 and Allied Trades labor union protested in front of the Babylon Junior Senior High School last week saying the district’s general contractor has hired painting companies that have a history of failing to pay their painters area standard wages and benefits. “Doing so hurts the workers, limiting their incomes and reducing their buying power in the local economy,” said John Shepard, a labor representative. 

School officials countered, however, that the union is simply wrong and that the district has met every legal requirement under state, federal and county law.  It also conducted a review of the contractors’ payroll documents that failed to turn up any evidence that they are not paying prevailing wage. 

After this information was passed along to the union, the protest was stopped, said Superintendent of Schools Linda Rozzi.

The general contractor, RENU Contracting and Restoration of Copiague, hired New Shore Painting   and A & M Painting to work on the building at 50 Railroad Ave., Babylon as it completes major infrastructure renovations. 

“Prior to commencing work, the district engaged in the required competitive bidding process and ultimately awarded the general construction contract to Renu Contracting in June 2016,” said Rozzi.  “Included in the conditions of this contract, which was completed through a subcontractor, was the Prevailing Wage Rate Schedule for Suffolk County as stipulated by the New York Labor Department.”

The attorney for Renu Contracting has also assured the district that prevailing wages are being paid, she said. 

Rozzi said the district takes such claims seriously and that the local painters’ union disbanded its demonstration in front of the school after the school outlined its findings to union officials.

Shepard disagreed. “We have not given up on the issue and received any information confirming that prevailing wages are being paid, and by continuing this practice, the Babylon School District is allowing them (the contractors) to destroy the area standards,” said Shepard.

Shepard said that while union members are not out in front of the school protesting, the issue is still unresolved.

Representatives of RENU and York Shore Painting did not return phone calls for comment. Tony D’Onofrio of A& M Painting declined to respond to questions on the issue. 

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