LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Getting the TJX warehouse built in Lordstown has come with obstacles. Just getting it approved required a zone change and a full-blown election. Now some local unions and builders are saying they may get shut out of the construction work.
With the closed GM Lordstown plant looming in clear sight and summer season traffic on the nearby turnpike, large machinery could be seen Thursday sitting on cleared land. It will soon be home to the TJX HomeGoods facility on Bailey Road.
Sam Boak, president of the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, said the general contractor for the project is from Georgia.
“He doesn’t have any roots in the Valley. He is here making a dollar and we do understand that, but so many of us have fought the battles here to make sure we buy locally, we eat at our local restaurants,” Boak said. “So they are going to come in here, ‘What’s the best price?’ They’re going to beat everybody down on the price and bring anybody in from Alabama to California or whatever to come do this job.”
He’s concerned that most, if not all, of the work — such as plumbing, roofing and painting — will go to companies from out of the area.
“When they’re coming from two or three states over, they’re in and they’re out. They work six, seven days a week. Sometimes they don’t pay overtime,” Boak said.
The building trades unions are especially upset Trumbull County commissioners agreed to a tax abatement without demanding workers be paid the prevailing wage.
“Why would you agree to a tax abatement that does not include the workers being paid a prevailing rate? I’m mad at Tim Ryan, Sean O’Brien, all the way down to the commissioners. We’ve been telling them about this for eight months,” said ironworker official Tony Deley.
Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka has tried contacting TJX’s vice president.
“We’d like them to use local labor if we can, so we got a call into Bradford Dunn to express concerns,” Polivka said.
Boak, too, would have liked language put in the TJX deal to guarantee the company would use some local workers.
He said there should have been a provision put in the tax abatement agreement that says 50% of the work would go to companies within a 100-mile radius of the project.
“That’s something that should have been looked at a long time ago. I don’t know how it got dropped but we’re very sorry that it did,” Boak said.
Trumbull County Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa said it’s too late to put that type of language in the deal now.
A TJX HomeGoods spokesperson sent us the following statement:
We remain very excited about this project and continue to believe it will be mutually beneficial to the people of Lordstown, the broader Mahoning Valley and HomeGoods. Our work thus far has been focused on clearing the property, work which we have been conducting with a site contractor located in Ohio. As it is early in the construction process, we are not in a position to confirm additional information at this time.”