NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Construction resumed at the site of the future New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, one day after a labor dispute halted work on the $172 million project.
Workers in hard hats scurried about and the sound of drills and hammers filled the air on Livingston Avenue on Tuesday.
Things were a lot quieter Monday when workers walked off the job. Construction equipment was abandoned on the sidewalk and stacks of drywall stood ready to be hung.
Starting at about 6 a.m. Monday, several of the workers picketed around the building, including the entrance on Bayard Street. They brandished signs and stood in the shadow of towering, inflatable rats.
Anthony Abrantes, senior council representative for the Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters, said workers were protesting the use of non-union laborers on the project. He said since the construction is funded in part by public money, union workers making the prevailing wage are to be employed.
Abrantes said one of the contractors, Middletown-based company AJD, was "sneaking" in non-union workers after hours, on the weekends and even sometimes during standard working hours.
About six to 15 workers at the site were affected, but the more than 100 other workers refused to cross the picket line and left for the day Monday.
On Tuesday, however, Abrantes told TAPinto New Brunswick the dispute had been settled.
"We have ceased picketing," Abrantes said in a text message. "The contractors and developers have come to terms on ensuring that all workers on site are paid the are standard wages and benefits and will come into compliance."
A message seeking comment was not returned by representatives at AJD, a company that has specialized in low-, mid- and high-rise residential buildings since being founded in 1977 by Anthony J. Diaco.
"The show of solidarity brought attention to the payment of substandard wages and unscrupulous contractors that are willing to cheat the system, forcing all parties responsible to take accountability to ensure the payments of area standard wages and benefits," Abrantes said.
The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center will give the George Street Playhouse and Crossroads Theatre a state-of-the-art home in the city's downtown cultural arts district.
The center is scheduled to open this fall.