An electrical contract that was the focus of a labor controversy at the new headquarters project for General Electric Co. will be awarded to a union-affiliated company after all.
GE delayed bidding for the work after electrical contractor Wayne J. Griffin Electric Inc. challenged the company’s use of a project labor agreement that would make it difficult for nonunion shops to compete.
Lou Antonellis, business manager at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, said the winning bidder for the GE electrical work is Lynnwell Associates, a Quincy company that uses electricians from his union, with a bid of $2.75 million. Antonellis said Lynnwell’s bid was nearly $1 million less than the one submitted by Griffin.
“We know the market in Boston,” Antonellis said. “Our contractors are very aggressive. They’re very competitive. They’re efficient. They’re productive. That’s why GE wanted to use the building trades in the first place.”
Like many unions, Local 103 has a fund to help contractors win bids by subsidizing the labor costs, but Antonellis said it was not used in this case.
A lawyer at Griffin, Michael Winters, said the Holliston-based contractor was pleased that it was even able to compete for the job, “just as a measure of fairness and opportunity for everybody” in the state.
“That’s what the bid laws are there for,” Winters said. “We’re on to the next job, I guess.”
The electrical job is part of the first phase of GE’s $200 million headquarters project in Fort Point, involving the renovations of two old brick buildings on Necco Court.
GE extended its bid deadline until Jan. 12 after Griffin challenged its use of labor agreements. Griffin argued that because GE will lease the two buildings from a government agency, MassDevelopment, contracts for work on the property must adhere to a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling that restricts project labor agreements on public jobs to complex construction work. Griffin had argued the work involved didn’t meet that criteria and should be open to nonunion bidders.
GE disclosed the winners for other components of the Necco Court job, but not how much it will pay for the work. A representative for the Building & Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District confirmed that all winners so far use union labor, although bids for masonry and window work are still being evaluated.
GE will own the 12-story tower that it intends to build next to the brick buildings in the project’s second phase, and still plans to use a project labor agreement for that portion.
Both phases are being subsidized with as much as $125 million in state aid, part of the incentives used to persuade GE to move to Boston from Connecticut in 2016. GE currently occupies temporary offices nearby, and aims to move into the two Necco buildings in 2019.
The GE headquarters project became a high-profile venue for nonunion contractors to challenge the use of project labor agreements in the region. Merit Construction Alliance president Jason Kauppi said the group accomplished its primary goal of ensuring an open competition on a public project, being built with taxpayer funds.
“We are pleased open-shop contractors were allowed to compete, and we believe taxpayers always get a better price and value when there is robust competition,” Kauppi said in a statement. “Knowing that open-shop contractors would be bidding forced the unions to be competitive in order to win, and without the competition, there is little doubt taxpayers would be paying more than necessary for this project.”