The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency has completed its investigation into a Hempstead Village commercial laundry’s employment and is moving forward to award tax breaks to the company despite outcry from some workers.
The IDA had granted preliminary approval of tax breaks for FDR Services Corp. in February but the agreement had been put on hold in light of allegations of inflated job numbers and unfair labor practices by the union that represents some of the company’s workers.
The IDA board held a special hearing on March 13 to hear from the laundry, as well as the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board union, and members of the public and elected officials.
The IDA sought additional employment information from FDR because the union alleged that it had 160 union workers and roughly 20 managers — instead of the 250 employees FDR had told the agency.
To undo the agreement, the IDA at its Thursday meeting would have had to vote to revoke the deal. The IDA benefits include the lowering of the company’s taxes from $409,000 to $280,000 per year for the first three years of the 10-year arrangement — the payments would then increase incrementally — in exchange for the retention of 250 jobs.
“Nobody on the board made a motion to rescind,” said chairman Florestano Girardi, who noted that state law does not charge IDAs with investigating labor disputes and the IDA had received additional affidavits from the company supporting the 250 jobs figure.
The union has also accused FDR of laying off members who went on strike out of seniority — which the company has disputed — and cutting off their health insurance, and has filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board.
Town Supervisor Laura Gillen submitted a letter to the IDA Monday urging the board to “halt any consideration” of FDR’s application until the labor disputes are resolved.
Girardi pledged to audit the company’s employment, as the agency does with its other projects annually, and said the IDA has terminated other deals previously and recouped the money if the required employment goals were not met.
The FDR agreement now requires additional paperwork — unrelated to the union’s allegations — to be signed before it can be completed.
“Obviously everybody is sympathetic to people’s needs, no doubt,” he said. “I just don’t know where the IDA fits into hearing any other facts or mis-facts other than the PILOT application, what we’re allowed to do by the state.”
More than a dozen union workers holding signs in the audience shouted “shame on you!”
“This is absolutely outrageous,” union spokeswoman Megan Chambers said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”