OSWEGO – It was standing-room-only in the Council Chambers Monday night as dozens of union members turned out to rebut comments made by local developer Anthony Pauldine.
The Oswego businessman spoke at a recent public session to express umbrage over being picketed late last year at the grand opening of the renovated Cahill Building.
Jim Mason, president of Carpenters’ Local #277, said that Pauldine paid some workers $450 a week and said, “That’s not bad.”
“Pauldine thinks that paying workers $450 a week is not bad. Let’s see him buy groceries with that,” Mason said. “It’s just barely above minimum wage.”
Mason pointed out that Pauldine gave an envelope with a check (made out to cash) for $250 to be presented to Councilor Rob Wilmott, a union official.
“Pauldine told him to use it so he didn’t have to picket somewhere in Oswego,” Mason said, adding that that constitutes Pauldine trying to bribe not only a union representative from the Carpenters’ Union but a city official.
Wilmott ripped it up.
“I want to thank Bob Wilmott for everything that he does for local labor. You are appreciated,” Mason said.
A second union official, Dave Haines, business agent of #277, echoed Mason’s remarks.
“Mr. Pauldine has upset every union worker, not just the trades workers, but firemen, policemen, Civil Service – every trade, every union there is with his comments,” Haines said. “I want to thank the members here that came out to support Bob Wilmott and the city council. I know you folks won’t stand for this type of thing. And, Bob, thank you for everything you do.”
George Baldwin, a union member, said he was offended by Pauldine’s comments.
“I do appreciate him renovating the old buildings, especially the old YMCA where I used to play basketball,” he said. “But, if he’s going to renovate buildings he should play by the same rules all of our contractors play by. He has to pay a living wage and he has to follow all the safety rules and regulations. I am concerned about the health a safety of workers on site. I just want to make sure he does every thing right.”
Gary Toth, a former president of Carpenters’ #747, said they picketed a lot in Oswego
“It wasn’t anything personal. The bottom line is, carpenters were not getting a fair wage, they were getting under paid and we wanted to make sure they got a living wage, benefits and health care” he told the council. “That’s our legacy. That’s what we stand for.”
There was concern that because of his union affiliation, Councilor Wilmott had a conflict of interest.
“There is no conflict of interest,” Toth said. “Bob is doing his duty. Bob is looking out for the welfare of the working people of the city of Oswego. His goal is to raise their standard of living … so they can live here, raise their family here, pay their taxes here … and improve the whole economic climate of Oswego.”