Local union officials said Tuesday they have reached an agreement with the developer of the $4 billion Heartland project in Brentwood to forgo a union-required project labor agreement, an issue that has long delayed the project.
Bill Duffy Jr., president of Local 138, which represents about 1,500 operating engineers, said Tuesday that he reached an agreement with developer Jerry Wolkoff a few months ago and four workers recently finished work at the site.
“There’s not a lot of work out there, and to sit and spin wheels over a PLA that the developer isn’t going to sign, we need to get creative and do other things to put the men and women of Long Island to work,” Duffy said.
Local 138’s willingness to forgo the PLA, an agreement between developers and union officials that guarantees certain wages and working conditions, could signify Wolkoff’s ability to move forward on construction at Heartland, observers said. Wolkoff has maintained he won’t agree to a PLA and several other unions have said they’ll refuse to work without one.
Wolkoff purchased the 450-acre parcel in 2002 for $10 million and still needs zoning approval from the Town of Islip.
“I believe I’ll be signing up a lot of contracts with different unions,” said Wolkoff, who declined to be more specific. “The others I believe will follow because they need work. Why wouldn’t they? They need work out there.”
The Heartland project calls for 9,130 housing units and retail, commercial and civic space.
“We would hope that many of the other construction unions would be able to reach an understanding with Mr. Wolkoff even if it’s short of a project labor agreement,” said Mitchell Pally, executive director of the Long Island Builders Institute. “There’s a lot of work to go around, and we want to keep it all on Long Island.”
Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci called the PLA issue “a matter between the applicant and the unions to work out."
Photo: Artist rendering of the Heartland project.