There are lots of workers currently on site at the Four Corners helping to bring the $100 million New Village project to life, but a group of local ironworkers say they have been shut out.
Several members of Metallic Lathers Local 46 have been outside on Main Street near the BrickHouse Brewery for several weeks standing next to the infamous inflatable rat that is synonymous with union protests.
"You have local guys who live in Patchogue, who live on the island who should be working there," said Michael Anderson, a business agent for Local 46.
Anderson said the workers currently doing the iron work are from North Carolina.
"A job like this should be local labor," he said.
Local officials, however, say Tritec Real Estate Company–which is building 291 apartments, 46,000 square feet of retail space and 18,000 square feet of office space at the Four Corners–has done its part to hire as many local union workers as it can.
"The answer is in the numbers," Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri said Thursday. "You bid on something and if you get out-bid, you match the numbers. There's no God-given right for anyone to have a job. The God-given right is for you to be able to bid on it and come up with a number that makes it work."
Pontieri said that 65-70 percent of the workers, including plumbers and electricians, on the project right now are union and almost 80 percent of the dollars paid out are to union workers.
Of the Local 46 workers protesting, the mayor said, "These guys are blowing smoke."
The difference in bids between union and non-union labor on some aspects of the project, including the iron work, has been several million dollars.
"The numbers are just too high," Pontieri said. "Make the numbers work and you got the job."
County Legis. Rob Calarco, who office is right across the road from the protest, said that while he likes to see local workers on the job who are going to pump their earnings back into the local economy, there was little the county, which gave Tritec $4 million in aid for project's workforce housing component, could do to get more local labor on the job.
"Unfortunately my hands are tied," said Calarco, who met with the protesting workers in his office and also spoke with Rob Loscalzo, Tritec's chief operating officer, regarding the issue.
Tritec's pitch to the county was that it would give everyone a fair chance to bid on work at the site and Calarco said he believed the company was doing so.
"I think they've been making the effort," he said.
Loscalzo, who has found himself defending the controversial development numerous times over the last several years, said Tritec has sought out the most qualified subcontractors.
"We met with all of these guys," Loscalzo said. "We gave everyone a fair opportunity."
"If it doesn't work out for certain groups and they feel that they want to protest, they can certainly exercise that right," he added.
Loscalzo would not discuss figures related to how much of the labor on the project is union, but he said there are times when people tend to focus on the negative.
"There are a lot of guys working and there are a lot of local contractors involved in this project," he said. "The economics are working down there and there's a reason for that."