In protest of Mayor Joe Curtatone’s continued appeals and lawsuits against Wynn Casino, three dozen people held up union-printed signs that read “Curtatone No Good For Community” outside of Somerville City Hall on Tuesday.
The protest happened almost a week after union workers were urged by Everett Mayor Carlos DeMaria to protest Curtatone on the phone, in person, through Facebook or email to get him to drop an administrative appeal filed with the state that is delaying construction of the billion-dollar casino in Everett. Identifying himself as Joe Smith, the protest organizer told the Somerville Journal, “The mayor hasn’t done anything for his constituents and local workers, including at Assembly Square,” adding, “It’s all right to build on one side of the river but it’s not okay to build on the other side?” Smith said he was a retired construction worker and that the other protesters consisted of “friends and family,” and he was not sure if any of them had any affiliation to any trade unions. While he did say all of the workers were from the area, including some from Somerville, he would not identify who. Smith was the only protester who commented.
The signs included a logo which indicated they were printed by a member of the Graphics Communication Conference, the Golden Manet Press in Quincy. The former is the printing and publishing wing of the Teamsters. In addition to the logo, a message in smaller print on the signs read, “These banners are not meant to induce a strike or a protest for or against any individual, corporation or organized group of any kind, only to express the opinion of the individual holding them.” An employee of Golden Manet failed to say who the signs were printed for.
Smith said that Curtatone’s appeal was causing the creation of construction jobs to be blocked on both sides of the river, with prevailing wages on one side and low-wage on the other. He referred to the developer that hired Bridgewater-based general contractor Callahan Construction, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT), to begin work on two new building projects at Assembly Square. Both aldermen and union workers have been critical of the hiring of FRIT since Callahan is known for using out non-trade workers from out of the area and paying low wages.
The postponement of the groundbreaking for the $1.7 billion casino was announced by Wynn President Robert DeSalvio a week ago today after Somerville demanded an administrative hearing challenging the legal validity of the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs granting of a key environmental permit for the casino in January. Four thousand workers set to work on the project will be affected by the delay as well as the same amount expected to be hired when the complex opens, which according to DeSalvio, is now anticipated to be no sooner than late 2018. The laying of the foundation cannot begin on the site until the appeal has run its course, according to Wynn representatives.