More than 40 union construction workers stood in front of Bloomfield City Hall on Tuesday morning to protest the ongoing construction of Niagara Bottling, a bottled water company at 380 Woodland Ave. in Bloomfield, Connecticut.
At least 20 of the protestors are unemployed, wish to work at the plant and are concerned Niagara is hiring mostly out-of-state workers and paying some locals a non-livable wage.
“I think it is unfair when companies come in from out-of-state, get economic development handouts from the city. They got $4.9 million and they refuse to use local construction workers,” Joseph Toner, president of the Hartford-New Britain Building and Construction Trades Council, said.
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According to Niagara Bottling, the company is paying entry-level workers $13.46 per hour, 15 percent higher than the living wage in Hartford County of $11.70 per hour.
The town of Bloomfield has already agreed to give Niagara Bottling $4.1 million in tax incentives, spread out over a period of seven years.
Union workers hoped it would be a condition of those incentives that they hire local workers.
But Bloomfield Mayor Joan Gamble said she was under the impression Niagara hired 75 percent local workers and she cannot set limits on private businesses.
“I heard also that the iron workers were asked to bid on the project and they came in 40 percent higher than the group that is now working on the site. So, to tell a business not to save money is contrary to good business," Bloomfield Mayor Joan Gamble said.
Bloomfield residents involved with “Save Our Water Connecticut” (https://www.facebook.com/Bloomfield-Citizens-441200309410393/) are also demanding the town not allow the project to expand any further from two to four lines of production.
“We would also like to get the MDC, our water company, to rescind the enormous discounts that they gave to the company, the same day that they raised our rates," Donna Landerman, of Save Our Water Connecticut, said.