Somerville City Hall
Board of Alderpersons
93 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02143
I am surprised and disappointed that the Board is considering Redgate’s Home Rule petition, which would circumvent prevailing wage rules on the Clarendon Hill project. These rules were put in place to protect working people, whether they work for a union or not. It’s a question of equity, and that’s a community value we all hold dear in Somerville.
Without these protections, we have a race to the bottom. Employers can exploit workers, creating second-class citizens who are not entitled to a living wage. We can’t let this construction boom in Somerville leave working families behind. After all, it’s our vibrant and diverse community that makes everyone want to live here, and it’s reasonable to expect developers provide the good, safe jobs and affordable housing that our community needs in exchange for generous taxpayer subsides.
Here’s why the Home Rule petition doesn’t make sense:
1. Redgate wants millions in discount on building the MARKET RATE units. Those units will make Redgate rich! Somerville leaders shouldn’t give Redgate a discount on building ritzy apartments, by holding down wages for working people.
2. Experience tells us that when developers don’t have to abide by community standards, everyone loses. For example, for the Essex Sports Center project in Middleton, the developer won a similar home rule petition. The result: wage theft and cost overruns. Two years later, the project is mired in legal troubles. We don’t need that kind of mess in Somerville.
3. Redgate may say it needs the “freedom” to underpay workers, in return for building the affordable units. But this is a false choice. The truth is that Redgate got a massive discount on the Clarendon Hill land parcel. The developer is also seeking a $10 million taxpayer-funded handout for providing so-called community benefits.
In short, Redgate is aiming to win the Sweetheart Deal Sweepstakes here in Somerville. First they got a no-bid deal, for a cherry of a parcel—right next to the T—at a huge discount of 60 percent. Now they are trying to convince local leaders that they need to pay workers poverty wages in order to “afford” to build the affordable housing units they already committed to.
Please reject this Home Rule petition and stand up for families in desperate need of affordable housing and prevailing wages, which protect both union and non-union workers from exploitation.