Hiring local workers vs. Saving $1.5 million

Jonathan Young
Jonathan Young
Dwayne Arelliano
Dwayne Arelliano

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - District Council 50 union members will protest at the Yacht Harbor Towers Saturday morning. They're angry about losing a bid to replace all the windows but this story, like windows, has two sides to look through.

The Yacht Harbor Towers plans to replace all the windows on each of the 40 stories on both towers.  It's a big job.  They sought out local companies first.  Three responded with bids in the seven to eight million dollar range.  That was way over the condo association's budget.  So the tower's board went out and struck a deal with a manufacturer and got what they believe is a better product with a longer warranty.

Then they went back to the local companies for estimates on just the labor.  Two said they wouldn't do it because they didn't trust the product.  The third was still too expensive.

So the association went with a Texas company to do the entire job whose offer was $1.5 million less than the lowest Hawaii company.

"That's a no brainer. Everyone is here to save money not to spend more. This is not the old days where you just get it and spend it.  This is the days where you're tight, everybody is tight with their money, frugal and trying to save every dollar," said Jonathan Young, Associated Builders and Contractors President, which deal with merit shops and is non-union.

"It's only a matter of a million dollars. Say for instance the company from the mainland comes down here they do the work they leave and you find a whole bunch of leaks now that million dollars is wiped out the door," said Dwayne Arelliano, Glaziers Union Business Representative.

The Glaziers Union says the Towers shopped around using their numbers although legally there's nothing wrong with that considering it is a private association and there was never a guarantee to go with one of the bidding companies.

The job needs 12 workers.  The local union can't understand how the Texas company can be so much cheaper.

"Who knows how much they're paying their guys or even where their guys are coming from. They could be getting paid $10, to $12 an hour," said Arelliano. "Unfortunately these mainland companies they don't care they're only thinking about the bottom buck so what you going to get is what you're going to pay for. They're going to come down here, do the job as fast as they can so they can turn a profit and everything, all the money they make is going back to the mainland."

"They say that the unions are better trained that everything is better the problem there is that any union job the extra fringe goes to the union to support their salaries," said Young.  "The bottom line is union dues or what we call fringe. Every hour you work for a union you have to pay into their fund. With merit shops you don't pay, that's your money."

Only time will tell if the Yacht Harbor Towers window work comes out streak free or if that savings will fly out the window.

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