“You Want Our Money ‘And’ Our Jobs” - IBEW Members Hold Informational Picket During Bank On Buffalo’s Groundbreaking For A New Niagara Falls Branch, Which They Say ‘Lacks’ Local Union Trades Members Needed To Build $2 Million Project
(NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK) – Amid the fanfare of an event that was held in Niagara Falls earlier this week by the Bank of Buffalo to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new $2 million branch, several International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 237 Members gathered nearby, holding up a very large sign that read: Bank on Buffalo - Eroding Area Wages and Live Here, Earn It Here, Spend It Here.
While the electrical work for the IBEW and its highly skilled and trained Electricians was projected by Union Leadership to be around $150,000 had they been hired to work on the Niagara Falls Boulevard project - which would put four Union Elections to work for an extended period of time, it was not lost on the same Labor Leadership that the Bank of Buffalo was sending their Members, who work in Niagara County, as well as the local community, a message: “You want our money ‘and’ our jobs.”
IBEW Local 237 Business Manager Russell Quarantello told WNYLaborToday.com that he is “tired” of businesses coming into Niagara Falls and Niagara County and making the decision not to use Union Labor. Quarantello said he’s also tired of being given the excuse by the owners of those businesses that “it wasn’t ‘their’ decision” to hire a project manager/contractor that declines to use Union Labor on their projects.
At least that’s what Bank of Buffalo President Martin Griffith himself told Quarantello during a recent telephone conversation, Quarantello said.
“We have reached out to the contractor (BRD Construction Incorporated, a Non-Union entity), and they ‘never returned our call,’” an angry and frustrated Quarantello told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper. “I talked to Griffith on the phone and told him it was a ‘bad business decision’ (in light of the fact Bank on Buffalo is seeking the banking business of area residents, including those who are Union Members and Members of IBEW Local 237, as well as other Niagara County Building Trades Unions and their Members).”
That’s why Local 237 Members showed up with their Bank on Buffalo - Eroding Area Wages and Live Here, Earn It Here, Spend It Here signs near the groundbreaking event.
“We ‘didn’t block any driveways or anything like that.’ ‘We wanted to send the Bank of Buffalo a message and make the public aware of how they view local Workers,’” he said.
However, what picked up Quarantello and his Members’ spirits was the amount of public support IBEW Local 237’s Members received while they conducted their informational picket - including a number of motorists who honked their horns and at least one individual who pulled up with coffee and doughnuts for those Union Members participating in the action.
“That ‘made us feel good.’ The motorists ‘were making a lot of noise hitting their horns as they drove by (which coincided with’ Bank on Buffalo’s groundbreaking event),” he said.
“The ‘more people we can make aware of how Bank on Buffalo’s views and treats us, the better.’ ‘We live here.’ ‘We pay our taxes here and no job is too small.’ ‘We fight tooth and nail for everything.’ ‘We also live on smaller jobs.’ ‘I guess what they’re saying to us is we are good enough to do business with, but not to hire us,’” said Quarantello, whose IBEW Local represents 230 Members.
Local 237 Members are also manning an informational picket outside Bank of Buffalo’s temporary Niagara Falls location in the nearby Town of Wheatfield, which Quarantello says is about a five-minute drive away from the bank’s new Niagara Falls Boulevard branch site.
According to a story that appeared in The Buffalo News earlier this week, Bank on Buffalo’s Wheatfield branch has collected deposits of nearly $50 million since opening last August, surpassing bank officials' expectations.
Griffith also told the newspaper that he expects that figure to grow to at least $100 million in deposits at the Niagara Falls permanent location.
It is too early to say, Quarantello said, how many individual Union Trades might be involved in construction of Bank on Buffalo’s new Niagara Falls bank branch. But at this time, he knows Local 237 and its Membership will not be unless something changes.
On another front, the IBEW Local 237 Leader was also upset with the mainstream media, particularly with The News.
Quarantello said he spoke with a News reporter with for more than 10 minutes for the story the newspaper did on Bank on Buffalo’s new bank branch groundbreaking event in Niagara Falls. However, when the story was published, it contained no comments or quotes from Quarantello.
To Read The Buffalo News Story, Go To: https://buffalonews.com/2019/05/01/bank-on-buffalo-breaks-ground-on-2-million-niagara-falls-branch/