The story "Demolition without union" [News, July 19] goes right to the crux of a major problem that has existed in our state and on Long Island for decades. State officials awarded a $6.4-million contract to an Indiana firm to raze part of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, absent a requirement that local workers be employed to perform the work.
General Building Laborers' Local 66, which represents hundreds of local demolition workers, claims its members were shut out of jobs for the project. This company should be hiring almost exclusively from Long Island. The other question is, why hire an out-of-state firm for a job that could easily be done by any number of qualified local companies?
Consideration should be given to the fact that as Long Islanders, we pay among the highest property taxes and utility rates in the country. I am a longtime advocate of giving local companies at least a 5 percent preference on all municipal bids to compensate for the high cost of doing business and living on Long Island.
While this may sound parochial, it's not. It's common sense. The project should be a win for Long Island, not for Indiana.
Lewis J. Yevoli, Old Bethpage
Editor's note: The writer is a former state assemblyman and Oyster Bay town supervisor.
Many readers responded with anger toward the unions, asking why we think we are entitled to the Kings Park work. The real issue is that New Yorkers are footing the bill for this demolition, and we aren't working on the project.
People are losing perspective that all of us are getting sold out. It is a shame when we are satisfied to say that the unions are the problem, when the ones we should direct our anger toward are the policy-makers and elected officials who allow tax dollars to leave the state.
We need to realize that we're in for tough times if we continue to be satisfied with losing these jobs. When an out-of-state worker takes this work, he or she is displacing New York taxpayers and our unemployed neighbors.
They take the money and run back to their home state and spend your tax dollars. In this case it's Indiana. And we're still unemployed and paying the bill.
Pete Zarcone, Holtsville
Editor's note: The writer is an executive board member of Local 66.