The Metropolitan Transporation Authority (MTA) of New York has agreed to hire a Chinese company to complete $235 million in renovations for Staten Island’s Verrazano Bridge.
The decision to work with Chinese workers who make $10 to $15 per day instead of US workers who earn $30 per hour has not sat well with the United Steelworkers and various other labor unions and outside critics.
The $235 million project was outsourcde to China because the MTA claims that only a company in that region was capable of making the type of fabricated steel plates needed for the project. Following that claim, various steelworkers came forth to say they could, in fact, make the stee plates in the United States of America.
United Steelworkers’ Vice President Tom Conway tells the NY Daily News:
“It’s a kick in the teeth. There’s a lot of New Yorkers who would be thrilled to work on this project. It should be American made.”
While the bid has already been granted, New York’s AFL-CIO is expected to fight the decision alongside various other labor organizations in New York.
The MTA claims that not a single steel plant in America can produce the type of high-tech steel plate it wants — known as orthotropic design.
In a letter regarding its decision to hand the Verrazano Bridge to the Chinese, MTA officials write:
“(The agency) worked diligently to find an American steel manufacturer with the capability, experience and desire to fabricate the steel bridge deck … the MTA could not find an American fabricator.”
The MTA wants to use orthotropic steel because it is lighter and stronger than the current heavy concrete upper deck supports and therefore will last longer.
In the meantime, officials at the MTA note that strict quality-control tests will be implemented to make sure the Chinese steel meets all US safety guidelines and requirements.
While labor unions are attempting to stop the MTA’s decision, the production of the orthotropic steel has already begun in China.
There is a tiny bit of good news: Once completed ,the Chinese-made steel plates will be shipped to America at which time American laborers will work on installing the plates on the Verrazano’s upper deck.
According to Conway:
“We are very skeptical about their claim they can’t find an American plant to make these plates. We found two in Pennsylvania — 100 miles from the bridge — that bid on the project and wanted to do it.”
Even if those factories could produce the steel, the labor costs would easily add another $100 million to the project’s cost over the next two years.
Do you think it is wrong for the MTA to hand a Chinese company $235 million to work on a major US construction project?