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No union labor for Kings Park demolition

One of the dilapidated buildings on the grounds

One of the dilapidated buildings on the grounds of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center. (Nov. 10, 2011) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

An Indiana firm hired to raze buildings at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center has not hired local demolition workers for the $6.4 million project, a state senator and a Long Island labor union say.

State parks officials say National Salvage & Service Corp., of Bloomington, Ind., has hired almost a dozen local subcontractors for nondemolition work related to the teardown of 15 buildings at the 521-acre site.

But a leader of Melville-based General Building Laborers' Local 66, which represents hundreds of demolition workers, said its members were shut out of jobs for the project. The union has the backing of state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), who urged National Salvage to hire more Long Island workers.

"Particularly if they come from out of state, they should be hiring local workers," Flanagan said. "They should be almost exclusively from Long Island. It's a Long Island project."

National Salvage co-owner and vice president Curtis Schopp did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

The site of the hospital, which closed in 1996, is now state parkland. Demolition is expected to start this month and be completed by next spring.

Pete Zarcone, executive board member of Local 66, said talks with Schopp about securing jobs for union members ended without an agreement.

"New Yorkers are being displaced from jobs that ought to go to New Yorkers," he said in an interview. "I don't think he [Schopp] has any intention of hiring local labor to do the demolition portion."

National Salvage's contract does not require it to hire local workers, but the firm hired 11 Nassau and Suffolk-based companies for trucking, paving, security and other tasks, state parks spokesman Dan Keefe said. The company won the contract this year under the state's open bidding laws, which do not give an edge to local companies.

National Salvage must pay workers an hourly salary of $63.37, which is the prevailing wage for projects under state contracts, Zarcone and parks officials said. Union workers would earn the equivalent of the prevailing wage, split between salary and benefits, Zarcone said. He said union labor would be cheaper, because taxes would be based on an hourly wage of $32.70.

"I just find it unbelievable that it would be more cost-effective to bring in out-of-state labor and house them," he said. "It just doesn't make sense."

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