Local painter's union upset multi-million dollar contract went to - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local painter's union upset multi-million dollar contract went to mainland company

Allen Wong Allen Wong
Russ Saito Russ Saito

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HALAWA (KHNL) - A commercial paid for by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, a local painters union, is causing quite a buzz. It accuses state politicians of favoring mainland contractors for multimillion dollar projects.

The controversy centers around the Aloha Stadium renovation project. The lowest bidder in the first phase of the project is a mainland company. The painters union claims local workers have a disadvantage, but the state says it's a level playing field.

Aloha Stadium goes through a major facelift. This 34-year-old venue is getting its roof fixed, and a new paint job. The winner of the $11 million project is a mainland company, and the painter's union says it's not fair.

"Right now, our members are out of work," said Allen Wong, the president of the painter's union. "They're out of medical, and a lot of them have exhausted their unemployment."

They are so mad about losing jobs to mainland companies, they released a commercial interviewing mainland workers at the job site.

"This is not the time to be giving away work to out of state contractors," said Wong. "The local people in Hawaii need the work."

But the state says the bidding process is fair, and doesn't give mainland companies an unfair advantage. The winner has to comply with all Hawaii laws.

"That means they have to have fair labor wages, they have to pay their taxes, and they have to have prepared healthcare, all of those things," said Russ Saito, the state comptroller.

Wong says this is the time to keep Hawaii workers employed so they can help stimulate the local economy.

"If these guys are coming in from out of state and they're taking our taxpayer money and taking it back to where they came from, how is it helping our state?" asked Wong.

But the state say, it's about safety and finding those who can do the work. Only two bidders had the right certification to do the job.

"The state is not willing to back on the requirement that contractors be certified because that's a lot of steel up there and we're worried about structural integrity, corrosion and safety," said Saito.

Concern over structural integrity and the integrity of the bidding process continue to be hammered out.

Aloha Stadium was built back in 1975 at a cost of $37 million. Other phases of the renovation project have not been awarded. The total cost is estimated to be around $150 million.

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