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New Bills stadium, new jobs but not everyone wins

Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 30, 2022

ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW) — The new Bills stadium will bring 10,000 new construction jobs to Western New York something that sounds good to Gary Swain, business manager of the Local 17 Union of Operating Engineers.

"I think that's great,” Swain said. “It's going to put a lot of people to work, people that live and breathe in the communities we're in."

He estimated, if this is a three-year project, 15 of his union members would make a combined $3.8 million over 100,000 hours worked.

"They're all excited because that just means work for our members,” Swain said.

But the project labor agreement is not good news for everyone. President of Associated Builders and Contractors Empire State Chapter, Brian Sampson, said this could take away opportunities from independent contractors and non-union laborers.

"Its super frustrating,” Sampson said.

Sampson said the majority of construction workers throughout the five counties of Western New York are non-union.

"You're telling 80% of the very skilled, highly trained workers that they're not going to be able to work on that project,” Sampson said.

Sampson said the project labor agreement effectively says a majority of workers must be from the union, which he said discourages non-union shops from bidding on the project.

Channel 7 followed up with the county executive's office for clarification on the job break down and they said it will be all union labor.

"It's going to be a small percentage that aren't in the union of the 10,000 jobs,” Sampson said. “And it's going to be likely out of state people anyway."

"I don't think they can say it's going to be strictly union workers,” Swain said. “But it would limit the jobs there if that was the case."

Sampson said he believes it would be best to move forward with no project labor agreement.

“The best bid should win the job regardless of affiliation,” Sampson said. “If that's a union contractor, fantastic, if it’s not, that's okay too."