A proposal to open in Bethpage a second Long Island location of QuickChek has come up against labor unions, which turned out in force at this week's Oyster Bay Town Board meeting to demand the company commit to hiring only local workers.
About 30 union members turned up at the meeting Tuesday to pressure the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based convenience mart and gas station chain and, separately, to express support for Supervisor John Venditto and the town board, who have been criticized for the town's concessions agreements with recently indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh.
Mario Mattera, business agent for the Ronkonkoma-based Local 200 of the United Association of Plumbers, criticized QuickChek for bringing in some workers from New Jersey last year to help build the company's first Long Island store, in Lake Grove, which opened last October.
"Local jobs for local people . . ." Mattera said to applause. "We need to put food on our tables."
Richard O'Kane, president of the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council, said after the meeting that hiring out-of-state laborers hurts Long Island's economy.
"They don't pay taxes here," he said. "They don't volunteer in the communities here. Why would you hire out-of-state workers when we have the workers here?"
Bob Vallario, QuickChek's vice president of real estate, said after the meeting that 70 percent of the construction workforce for Lake Grove was locally based.
But he said the company brought in workers from a New Jersey company to construct the fuel tanks and pumps that are part of the Lake Grove gas station and plans to do the same in Bethpage. QuickChek has worked with the company for more than 20 years and trusts its work, he said.
For the rest of the construction workforce, QuickChek does not mandate that its contractors hire a certain percentage of local or union labor, Vallario said.
"I think the most qualified person or company that puts in their bid would be the ones selected to do the work," Vallario said.
QuickChek, which has 140 stores in New York and New Jersey, plans to open two to three stores a year on Long Island, Vallario said. The Islip Town Board in January unanimously blocked QuickChek from opening in Bayport after dozens of residents voiced opposition to the proposal.
The company is fighting that decision in court, Vallario said. The company also is in court fighting an effort by a competitor to stop QuickChek from opening in Brentwood, on the Hauppauge border, he said.