Wangard’s Park East Proposal Approved Despite Union Fight
Once again it was union versus union.
At a special meeting of the County’s Economic and Community Development Committee, held on June 18th, the committee reversed course from a previous action, and approved an updated development agreement between Milwaukee County and the development team, Wangard Partners Inc. and Park East Square, for the development of Block 26, a 2.13-acre lot in the Park East Corridor. The updated development agreement had been held, at the June 18th committee meeting, to allow for SEIU Local 1 to work out issues with Wangard Partners stemming from the loss of twelve union janitor positions at 875 E. Wisconsin, but it appears those concerns were put on the back burner by some committee members to move the development forward and create jobs.
Peter Hanranhan, Vice President SEIU Local 1, continued his opposition to approval by picking up with where he left off, at the previous meeting, saying, “the irresponsible actions of Wangard Partners ruined the lives of twelve janitors.”
Once again a long list of construction industry union representatives spoke in support of the project. The support stemmed in part due to high unemployment in the construction industry. In fact Eric Strom, of Carpenters Local 344, claimed that, “right now we’re looking at 33% unemployment.”
Supervisor Mayo explained why he was changing his vote stating, “right now we have unemployment in my community, it is very strong.”
Responding to the claims from SEIU that dropping the union janitor’s contract was a benefit to him personally, Stewart Wangard explained, “I do not receive any benefit,” and that the change in workforce was “about quality and performance.” Wangard finished up saying “our firm has a track record…a track record that is good for this county.”
Although the project start date is listed as September 2013 in the development agreement, Pamela Opyd, of Gateway Advisors, LLC, explained that, “was an outside date.” Opyd continue explaining that they have issued the first bid package, were currently receiving bids, and according to her the project will start Sept 1, 2012.
The committee voted five to two to approve the agreement with Supervisors Johnson and Weishan voting in opposition.