Labor leaders picket Agrana plant for hiring out-of-state companies while accepting tax breaks

Union members picket the Agrana plant Tuesday morning.

Local labor leaders say out-of-state contactors have been hired to work on a large project in Lysander that has received a taxpayer grant and tax incentives.

A dozen members of the Central New York Labor Federation, Roofers and Sheetmetal Workers Unions set up an informational picket outside the site of the Agrana Fruit Plant on Sixty Road near the Village of Baldwinsville Tuesday morning. The say Agrana and its general contractor have hired an Ohio based company for the roofing work and a California company to install the siding on the future fruit processing plant.

The picketers point out that the state gave Agrana a $600,000 grant and $2 million in tax credits to locate the facility in Onondaga County. Ron Haney of Roofers Local 195 says the use of out-of-state contractors violates the intent of grants and tax incentives designed to create local jobs.

Tony Castrello of the Sheetmetal Workers Local 195 feels the state should investigate the situation and look into ways to ensure that taxpayer money benefits local workers. Castrello says he can not understand how out-of-state companies can underbid local contractors who can easily handle the work.

"It's not union or non-union. I want to stress that 100 percent. It's about New York State people who need jobs. The construction industry is struggling enough around here." Castrello told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

As President of the Central New York Labor Federation, Ann Marie Taliercio is calling for greater oversight on the use of money that flows through Onondaga County's Industrial Development Agency.

Representatives of Agrana Group, an international food processing company with corporate offices in Brecksville Ohio, have not returned our calls for comment.

An employee with the Dennis Group which is engineering the construction said the company "would have no comment" in response to the picketing outside the job site.

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency has not yet responded to our request for comment.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office announced on March 14th that Agrana had chosen Lysander as the site of a 107,000 square foot facility that will employ up to 120 people. The plant is expected to process fruit to supply the burgeoning yogurt industry in New York State.