TOWN OF MONTGOMERY- More than 70 workers, teachers and residents rallied Monday morning across the street from Amazon site off Route 17K to urge the company to hire more local laborers.
They stood 6 feet apart holding signs reading “Petillo Inc. unfair to members of local 445,” next to their cars that lined up nearly half a mile while trucks came back and forth at the site. Some passing vehicles honked to show their support.
Dan Maldonado, president of Teamsters Local 445, said they are hoping to get the contractor to the table and discuss hiring more local workers. He added it’s unfair that some local truckers are out of work while nine out-of-state trucks were seen at the site.
“We’ll stay here as long as we can,” said Maldonado.
Maldonado said the contractor refused his request to even get involved in a conversation about bringing in more local truckers. The teamsters plan to continue picketing until they get a deal. About 50 construction workers showed up on Monday.
While many nonessential construction sites have been ordered to shut down, the work on Amazon continues as it was viewed as crucial for supply chains.
Valley Central Teachers’ Association President Rich Steger is among a dozen of teachers joined the rally. He said the teachers were there to show a solidarity to the group so more local laborers would benefit from the project.
“We firmly believe that coming to the table is how you get things done,” Steger said. “They should sit down and try to come to a common ground.”
Although the New York State on Pause executive order has banned non-essential gatherings, peaceful protests are allowed as long as masks are worn by all participants and social distancing practices are adhered to, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The construction of the 1,010,880-square-foot Amazon warehouse started in February after a $20.5 million tax break was granted. According to the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement, Amazon is required to hire at least 85 percent local laborers. The $75.2 million project is expected to employee more than 800 people within two years of completion and create 300 construction jobs.
Supervisor Brian Maher said the Amazon development is currently working under the labor policy, but the agreement does not mandate the specific union to be utilized.
“It is my hope that in the future local labor shops located and pay taxes within the town can be given preference for work here in their hometown,” Maher said. “As future projects call the Town of Montgomery, this is a position I plan to make clear.”
He added outside auditors have been hired to monitor the Amazon development to ensure they abide by the local labor law since the start of the process.