Ironworkers protest work in Austintown Township
By Kalea Hall
Members of the Ironworkers Local 207 want to see Austintown Township use local workers for projects.
Township Trustee Jim Davis said “of course” the township wants to use local businesses for its projects, but the township also has to follow state law.
Ironworkers protested outside of the Austintown Township offices on Tuesday because the township hired Classical Construction of Millersburg to build a salt storage building.
“If we didn’t follow the bid criteria, we would have opened the township up to liability,” Davis said.
Local 207 President Tony Deley said the workers were out there in protest of the township having two levies on the ballot, but local workers who pay for those levies weren’t awarded work.
“You can’t keep on taxing us and you giving the work elsewhere,” he said.
The township seeks two new levies, one for roads and one for police. Both are a 1-mill, five-year levy that will generate $614,966 annually. Each levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $35 annually, according to Vindicator files.
For the salt storage project, Thomas Fok and Associates Inc. estimated the construction would cost $150,000.
Classical Construction came in with the low bid at $149,900. The township researched all the contractors that submitted bids, Davis said.
“By law we are only permitted to accept what can be the lowest and best bid,” Davis said.
State law also says the township cannot award a contract to a bidder with a bid that is 10 percent or higher than the estimate.
The first union contractor that was the lowest was $80,000 more than the lowest bid, Davis said.
The union contractor’s bid was 10 percent higher than the estimate, “so we couldn’t even accept them anyway,” Davis said.
“We abide by the state law,” he said. “We always encourage that people support our local businesses. We as township and elected officials, we take every step we can legally to do that.”
Deley, who represents about 350 ironworkers locally, plans to protest on Election Day. He believes the project should have been put out for rebid.
“My complaint is there are two levies on the ballot for the township and you got all of our employees sitting on the bench not contributing to the taxes,” Deley said.