For the Pestronks, the Goldtex equation begins and ends with economics. They sought bids for the job. When the results came in, they calculated that going all-union would run them an extra 40 to 50 percent in labor costs. Some unions, like the electricians, offered a competitive combination of cost and delivery time, or negotiated. Others didn’t. The Pestronks wound up awarding 40 percent of the job to unionized contractors. They didn’t concern themselves with how Trades would react to winning less than half the work, figuring any protest would be small. “To be honest,” admits Michael, “we were probably a little naive.”After the Pestronks awarded bids to a mix of union and non-union contractors, all union contractors pulled out of the job. Union pressure on the construction site and non-union crews was unceasing. The Pestronks set up PhillyBully.com, dedicated to enshrining the unions' bad behavior -- most notably, vandalism and violence -- for all to see.
The Trades swear to end their protest and begin whatever work is still available on the Goldtex building, as part of a mixed site of union and non-union workers. This is a radical about-face. In return, they asked the Pestronk brothers to make one of their next major jobs all-union.Does the Goldtex project signal a sea change in how development is done in the city, or is it a fluke? My guess: Anyone subscribing to the Pestronks' YouTube channel will have plenty of new viewing material when construction begins on the Atlantic Building.
That next job, the Atlantic Building, a 21-story high-rise on South Broad Street just two blocks from City Hall, is undoubtedly a prize. The Pestronks plan to rehab the whole building, installing retail to go with 300,000 square feet of apartments. A successful project there, without union labor, would send the signal that Trades dominance of the marketplace is clearly over. But the Pestronks refuse to commit one way or the other, insisting they’ll bid the project out, just like Goldtex.
This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request, do-over -- cortex
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