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Madison Park Development Corporation provides hiring stats

Nate Homan | 7/31/2014, 6 a.m.
Staff from the Madison Park Development Corporation met with labor activists to outline their efforts to meet minority, boston resident ...
The Madison Park Development Corporation is building a new Tropical Foods supermarket at the corner of Washington Street and Melnea Cass Boulevard. Labor activists allege the project is not honoring commitments to hire locals. (Banner photo)

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson and former Councilor Chuck Turner facilitated a meeting between representatives from the developers of the Tropical Foods market in Dudley Square and labor activists protesting what they say are unfair labor practices.

Protesters have picketed outside of the Tropical Foods construction site in Dudley Square since July 16, advocating for fair wages for workers and pushing for developers and construction subcontractors to uphold the Boston Residents Job Policy, a measure dating back to 1986 that requires contractors to hire 50 percent Boston residents, 25 percent minorities, and 10 percent women.

“I think what we do here will be indicative of what we’ll do in the future,” Jackson said. “This is a tradition in District 7 of the city councilor pulling together meeting to monitor what is going on in our community.”

When The Banner spoke to Madison Park CDC, Chief Executive Officer Jeanne Pinado, she made it clear that there were several contractors working onsite who have different numbers of workers on site, thus different hiring percentages, which the representatives broke down.

Statistics provided by the Boston Redevelopment Authority showed the hiring numbers. The total hiring numbers for onsite workers at the Tropical Foods development are 38 percent Boston residents, 56 percent minorities/people of color, and 6 percent female.

Of the 118 employees working for 13 contracting companies, 57 are minorities, seven are females and 35 are residents of Boston. Some of the contractors have completed their specific jobs on the site months ago, while others that are still working released their numbers for July 5th through the 12th.

Given the varying degrees of skills, prospective walk-on workers and attendees of job fairs are given a trial program while contractors work to keep tabs on their race, residency and gender. The contractors brought up the difficulty of meeting the requirements based on skills sets.

“There are some trades where there’s not a lot of folks,” Jackson said. “When you’re putting an elevator in there, we realize that there’s not a lot of folks to choose from. But when we’re talking about carpenters and laborers, there’s a lot of people of color and city residents.”

Jackson said that he met with BRA representatives to discuss wages and the request for proposal for the development.

“I take issue with the inclusion of numbers that are not being paid,” Jackson said.

“To me, it’s a binding document in that the project review committee used it to compare this job to another group who wanted to develop this site. I have asked them, through their legal counsel, if there’s anything that can be done here.”

He told the group that his office had received phone calls from people claiming that they had been paid $11 an hour, which was then raised to $15. Contractors said that they had reimbursed two people and that those instances were the only cases they were aware of.

“What we find is that quite often contractors are coming from outside the city of Boston with their core crews, the people they always use. What we’re encouraging people to do is, if you work in Boston, your core crew should be 50 percent resident, 25 percent people of color and 10 percent women. It’s just simply the right thing to do.”

Jackson said that there is still opportunity for the project to be transformed into economic mobility opportunities for people in the Roxbury neighborhood, but issues of hiring in accordance with the city’s standards are a common problem with any large-scale development.

The estimated completion date for the Tropical Foods Market building is October 31, 2014.