Fight for Somerville jobs Feb 17

On February 16, 2011, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

By Matthew McLaughlin

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

“Remember your promises.”  That is the motto of the clan McLaughlin dating back to ancient Ireland.  The centuries have passed, but the importance of keeping one’s word is still a litmus test to the honor of an individual.  KSS Reality has continually failed this test in dealing with the community, and on Thursday, Feb. 17, 5:45pm at City Hall, the community intends to hold them to their word.

Long before KSS demolished the old Max Pak factory by Lowell St. with intentions to build 200 high rent apartments, they signed a covenant with the city covering many important aspects of the proposed development.  That covenant “strongly encouraged” the use of union labor with special consideration for Somerville residents.  Of the many articles in the covenant, why is this the only clause KSS feels it can ignore?

With Max Pak gone and construction set to begin, there are many unemployed Somerville residents who would be proud to help KSS see its project to completion.  Yet, KSS has instead chosen to ignore the community’s needs.

At Planning Board hearings and in the newspapers, KSS has argued that it has made efforts to honor the covenant.  What we intend say next Thursday is “Prove it! Promises have been broken and your word is not good enough.”

For those who may think our coalition, which includes Save Our Somerville, the Somerville Community Corporation, and several other unions and community organizations, has no right to make such demands on a private business, consider the following:
– KSS is receiving $490,000 of taxpayer money to build an essential entrance ramp from Lowell St. to the MaxPac site.
– The community bike trail will be extended right next to the apartments, increasing the value of their property — thanks again to the taxpayers.
– The Green Line extension will also have a stop near the project, substantially enhancing the value of the property and again increasing their profits at our expense.

So millions of taxpayer dollars will directly benefit KSS Realty for apartments that they say will average $3,000 a month for a two bedroom apartment.  And we’re supposed to act like they’re doing us a favor by building it?  Since none of my friends can afford to live there, the least KSS can do is let them work there so they can afford to live in the city we all love.

Like any business, KSS looks at this as a matter of dollars and cents.  But while they are trying to make an extra buck, we are simply trying to survive.  What may be a mild inconvenience to them would mean a world of difference to Somerville workers and their families.  We are asking Somerville residents to stand up for Somerville jobs and tell KSS Realty to remember its promises.

Matthew McLaughlin is a lifelong Somerville resident, member of Save Our Somerville and serves on the board of the Somerville Community Corporation.

 

18 Responses to “Fight for Somerville jobs Feb 17”

  1. Anon says:

    Great piece, Matthew! The city has let these developers walk all over it.

  2. joe says:

    The city allows virtually all developers to walk all over it.

  3. Rand Wilson says:

    Nice job Matt. Great timing too!

  4. brian says:

    So, here is my question: how can this community resist enforcement of immigration laws (i.e., not remove those that are here illegally and ask them to come back through the legal process), and then we have people complaining that a developer wants to pay people that will do the work for less?

    correct me if i am wrong, but wasn’t half the country just arguing that “illegal immigrants are only here to do the jobs that americans won’t do”?–what happened to that argument once unemployment got to 10% (twice that in construction jobs)??

    two disclaimers:
    #1, honestly, if you’re going to argue that this article has nothing to do with that, then you need to get after a basic economics text book.

    #2, i am an immigrant that came through said legal channels, so for those morons that will seek to reduce valid points to “he must hate foreign people!!”, please let the adults speak.

  5. Somerfall says:

    Matt McLaughlin tells it like it is…KSS gets their boodle, and the residents of Somerville get the old stacked deck!

  6. Joseph Keller says:

    “the clan McLaughlin”? Sounds like “the Gambino family” to me… Hey Matthew, harassed any Davis Sq. yuppies lately? Just checking on your progress…

  7. jamie says:

    The city lets ALL developers walk all over it, in my opinion.

  8. Me says:

    [That covenant “strongly encouraged” the use of union labor with special consideration for Somerville residents. Of the many articles in the covenant, why is this the only clause KSS feels it can ignore?

    With Max Pak gone and construction set to begin, there are many unemployed Somerville residents who would be proud to help KSS see its project to completion. Yet, KSS has instead chosen to ignore the community’s needs. ]

    Thats a pretty crazy jump in conclusions there. How is not hireing union labor ignoring community needs? When 15% of the work force is made up by Union members, limiting their hiring pool to this small segment would be a disservice to the community, driving up the cost of the apartments.

    Moreover, you are right, you are not in a position to demand that a private company do what you want any more then you can demand that I use union labor. The bike path is going near my house. I would like to see you try, with a strait face, to tell me and my neighbors who we can and cant hire. Ditto for anyone that is going to be near the extended green line.

    The mayor and other were happy to lavish unneed incentives on these companies in exchange for the enhanced property taxes the city would receive in the future. I blame the politicians acting like predictable politicians more then I blame the company for acting like a predictable company.

  9. Bill Shelton says:

    As always, Matt, you are eloquent and apt. If I had not been obligated be at an Assembly Square Public Advisory Committee meeting that took place at the same time, I would have been right there with you last night.

    Is there any indication that the Curtatone administration will–uncharacteristically–require developers to do the right thing?

  10. paul says:

    I’m sorry your parents didn’t teach you that you are not entitled.

    Put forth your best bid on the project, but don’t try to bully others to hire you.

  11. Alex Pirie says:

    Thanks, Matt. Glad there are more and more people like yourself who decided not to pay attention on the day they taught “it’s the responsibility of working people to support the enrichment of the owning class.”

    $3,000/month?!?! On Wisconsin!

  12. Villen13 says:

    Good job as usual, Matt. It makes me proud when I see people sticking up for themselves and others in their comminity.

    Paul, do you really believe that Matt is acting entitled by asking KSS to stick to their promise? If so you are so out of touch with the world that you mind as well live in a bubble.

    Keep fighting the good fight, don’t take no sh*t.

  13. Somerspeak says:

    Remember that old saying about people who live in glass houses?
    I really think all the do-gooders from SCC should be asking why SCC has never used union labor on any of their projects in this city.

    Do as I say, not as I do seems to be the catch phrase at that organization.

  14. Dan Smith says:

    Yeah, Let’s hire the unions so the hourly cost of labor is 5x would it could be…and then the developer passes on the cost to the buyers…and the housing units go way up in price.

    Please. Most of us are sick to death of unions fleecing us…it’s a zero sum game. The developer still needs to make a profit. If you hire union labor you are merely transferring money from the buyer to a union member.

  15. Harry says:

    A couple of points – if you’re a Somerville contractor (union or non-union) then I would reach out to KSS Realty directly and make your case. If they’re serious about a good effort to hire Somerville people then I have to believe you’d have a leg up.

    If you’re a union then it is complete crap that would you just EXPECT to be given the contract. Grow up.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Do as i say not what i do, the SCC has been given the green light so many times by this administration and board of alderman that makes me sick as a taxpayer and resident. I say dismantled, refund and boycott Somerville Community Corp. as they do you. Try this out, see who is on the board of directors and then ask how they got on, and the best is how would you get on? If you are a native Somerville resident working in the private sector your chances of getting on without some left wing views, oh sure they have maybe a couple, but most work for other non profits or a government job better known as hacks.

  17. Me says:

    [So millions of taxpayer dollars will directly benefit KSS Realty for apartments that they say will average $3,000 a month for a two bedroom apartment. ]

    Does anyone (or Matt feel free to supply) have the source for these numbers? Seems a bit of an exaggeration used to fuel his story. I was unable to find the tax breaks to KSS Realty for this project, how many millions is it really? Is it actually millions? I might buy $3,000 for a penthouse apt, with a large roof deck, but for the average apt going in there?

  18. Jimmy McMillian says:

    The $3,000 a month is what Ted Tobin of KSS said it would cost at one of the planning board hearing. When you consider the $490,000 in grant money they recieved to build a ramp, the bike path that will cost well above that, and the Green Line extention that threatens to bankrupt the state, millions is no exaggeration.

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