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Friday, January 23, 2015

Aldermen Encourage Hiring of Union and Local Labor at Assembly Row

majority of the members of the Somerville Board of Aldermen sent a strong message to FRIT last night as they submitted a resolution encouraging the hiring of Union and local labor for construction at Assembly Row.

Coming in as a supplemental item #10983, the legislation states, “That this Board of Aldermen strongly urges Federal Realty Investment Trust to employ union labor for all aspects of construction at Assembly Square and to give preference to qualified Somerville residents when hiring for all construction work performed at Assembly Square.”

The push for Union and local hiring has long been a conversation in Somerville, resulting in picket lines at such big projects as MaxWell’s Green in Ward 5. The drive in Assembly Row has heated up since FRIT was considering the hiring of General Contractor who is notorious for non-union hiring and substandard work. 

In a post featured on Somerville Patch, local activist Rand Wilson highlighted the difference between the two finalists using an excerpt from a letter to FRIT’s Don Briggs signed by more than 75 Somerville residents. He wrote, “The contrast between Suffolk and Callahan could not be starker. Suffolk plans to build the project with all union labor, using skilled men and women who will provide high quality work while earning a decent wage with health insurance and retirement security benefits. If Callahan performs the work, on the other hand, there will be no union presence. Workers on the project will receive substandard wages and few or no benefits.” The letter was sent to Briggs by Good Jobs Somerville and is in reference to a 448-unit apartment complex being built at Assembly Row. 

Read Wilson’s full article here:

Conversations with Suffolk stopped in mid-December, according to a Boston Globe article (, forcing Somerville labor activists to increase pressure on FRIT. A Facebook page ( has been launched and the Somerville Neighborhood News is planning a full story on the effort in an upcoming broadcast.

FRIT’s hesitation to hire Suffolk is somewhat surprising considering they have worked with the company in the past and it would match Partners Healthcare’s commitment to the community as the non-profit, not only will pay municipal services contributions to Somerville annually, but the contractor of the their project has entered into a Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters according to a City press release issued on August 26th, 2014. I would think that FRIT would want to continue Partner's dedication to Union and local labor as Somerville is overflowing with exceptional trades people who can make Assembly Row a "for the people, by the people" project.

Construction for Partner’s offices will begin in the fall of 2014 with completion set for 2017. FRIT is hoping that work on the 448-unit apartment complex can commence in the spring and complete in 2016-2017.

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