Does Cornell Care?

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#DoesCornellCare about job safety?

On May 11, 2018 OSHA issued Citation and Notification of Penalty’s to Quality Framing Construction Services for lack of fall protection on 3/23/18 at a cost of $2772 and Refaz Home Improvement Company for lack of fall protection on 3/23/18 at a cost of $3696.



#DoesCornellCare about complying with local building codes?

Mark Stonier, Ithaca Town Code Enforcement Officer found so many framing violations he told LeChase to “call after they completed their own check.”


#DoesCornellCare about employing local construction workers?

At an Ithaca Planning Board meeting, Jeffrey Resetco of EdR, boasted that the Maplewood Project would create 300 new job opportunities for construction workers on the site.





#DoesCornellCare about compliance with wage and hour laws?

Alex L., a construction worker at Maplewood for an out of town subcontractor, says he worked 12 hour days, was paid in cash, and received NO OVERTIME.




#DoesCornellCare too much about costs rather than workers?

We cannot assume Cornell is friendly to labor. If they’re trying to get cost effectiveness, it’s the workers who suffer.” – Katherine Russell (Ithaca Planning Board Meeting, March 15, 2016, p. 13).


#DoesCornellCare about students?

  • In May 2017 Cornell was found in violation the NLRA for the following e-mail sent by Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School Barbara Knuth to graduate assistants. “All of these funds (external grants, and department and college budgets) are limited. It is possible that significantly increased cost could lead to reduced numbers of graduate students at Cornell due to wages and benefits negotiated by CGSU.” Effectively causing fear amongst graduate students the day before the union election.
  • Johnnie Kallas, a IRL graduate student states “The Cornell administration’s violation of labor law shows its lack of regard for labor rights and shared governance. As an ILR student, it’s disturbing that the university took illegal anti-union action mere steps away from classrooms where its faculty and grad workers teach appropriate labor relations.”
  • It is “important that institutions see there are consequences for the behavior they exhibit in labor disputes,” comments Jaron Kent-Dobias grad, CGSU communications and outreach chair.

#DoesCornellCare about sustaining the local economy?

Kay Wagner, of the Natural Resources Committee and Women Voters of Tompkins County, asked the Ithaca Planning Board to commit to supporting a healthy, local community. Specifically, Wagner called for local labor on all construction and occupancy phases, stating, “Remember that money paid to local labor remains in the community. Money paid to workers brought in from elsewhere mostly leaves the community.” (Ithaca Planning Board, March 15, 2016, p. 11).

#DoesCornellCare about its nearby neighbors to the Maplewood Project?

Ithaca resident, Jim H., lives across the street from the Maplewood Project, and from the start of construction and demolition expressed his concerns about the project.? (Ithaca Planning Board Meeting, June 21, 2016, p. 16).

#DoesCornellCare that the Town of Ithaca is saddled with additional expense for additional town services caused by Maplewood?

Peter G., Cornell Professor and resident of Mitchell Street, notes that Cornell is making millions of dollars off this project, and questions how it is “fair for the community to bear the expense” (Ithaca Planning Board Meeting, October 18, 2016, p.3).

#DoesCornellCare that local tradesmen have been available to work on the Maplewood project?

Tim Frost of Lechase Construction claimed there was a problem “retaining workforce” on the Maplewood Project. What about the local Ithaca tradesmen who were ready, willing, and able to work on the project? (Ithaca Planning Board Meeting, August 1, 2018, p. 1).

#DoesCornellCare about the quality of residential construction?

Cornell University Real Estate Operations’ vision is to promote “real estate activities that keep Ithaca a great place to live by providing quality jobs, tax revenues, and strengthening its economic base.” Well, let’s look at some of the contractors Cornell has brought in:

  • Lechase Construction Services, LLC has been previously found liable for serious work-related injuries on more than one occasion;
  • As recently as 2016, JM Business Associates Corp., an out of town sub-contractor on Maplewood settled two “serious” OSHA violations;
  • Nelson’s Lamp Lighters Inc., a non-union electrical contractor, has been successfully sued for willfully failing to adequately pay its employees on multiple occasions;
  • Radec Electric Corp., a non-union electrical contractor, was the subject of a class action lawsuit where the court ordered it to pay out a minimum of $3 million for
    • (1) not paying for lunch breaks,
    • (2) failing to compensate employees for travel time, and
    • (3) failure to include certain factors in calculating overtime payment;
  • A Kohler Builders employee recently damaged a natural gas service. When confronted with violations, Kohler Builders stated that a “penalty would do nothing at this point

#DoesCornellCare about employing local construction workers?

“Using local labor is a concern” – Bill Goodman, Town Board Member (Town Board Meeting, June 27, 2016, p. 3). Why did Cornell not make sure local workers were prioritized?

#DoesCornellCare about sustaining the local economy?

J. Hogg (Apr 21, 2016) comments “It is infuriating to think we will be subsidizing the profits that will end up leaving our community while the infrastructure costs will be passed onto us.”


#DoesCornellCare its’ developer doesn’t take responsibility for the Maplewood construction delays?

Jeffery Resteco, EDR, blames the Maplewood delays to the shortage of framing laborers due to the hurricane damage around the country stating: “We couldn’t get the labor, we couldn’t get the framers, everybody’s too busy” all the while there have been no hurricanes in Central New York.

Todd Bruer, President of the Tompkins-Cortland Building Trades Council states: “EDR’s claims that everyone is too busy is a joke. We have hundreds of skilled constructions workers right here in Central New York that could have been working on this job and then spending earning right back into our community.”

#DoesCornellCare about how out of town construction workers behave?

Out of town construction workers have been housed in Cortland hotels. Local residents have repeatedly complained about the rowdy behavior of out of town construction workers. Law enforcement and ICE officials have made arrests.

#DoesCornellCare that local tradesmen have been available to work on the Maplewood project? 

Todd Bruer, President of Tompkins-Cortland Building Trades Council, says: “We support our contractors and work together to supply highly skilled labor so the job gets done on time. Our local contractors would have finished this job on time and without all the problems they had.”

#DoesCornellCare about how undocumented workers are treated?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have occurred. OSHA safety violations have been issued. NYS Department of Labor investigations have started.

#DoesCornellCare about adhering to its stated vision for the University?

Cornell University’s Real Estate Operations vison reads “Promoting real estate activities that help keep Ithaca a great place to live by providing quality jobs, tax revenues, and strengthening its economic base.” Yet, they say they cannot set provisions to ensure local labor on Maplewood project?

David Marsh, Secretary Treasurer of the Building Trades Council states “Cornell absolutely could have, and should have, required EDR use skilled union labor on Maplewood and can do the same on the next student housing project.”

#DoesCornellCare that local tradesmen have been available to work on the Maplewood project?   

Jeffrey Resetco of EdR claims, “We couldn’t get the labor,” and yet local, skilled tradesmen are ready to be employed.

#DoesCornellCare about residents’ concerns regarding the look of their neighborhood?

Scott Whitham, of Whitham Planning & Design: “It was clear throughout the Maplewood Project that residents of the Belle Sherman and East Hill areas would like more of a role in the development and design of their neighborhood, to be able to have input, and to express their concerns right from the beginning of the process.”

  • But, Wendy W., an Ithaca resident “does not understand why the developer keeps saying they’re listening to the public, and yet, except for moving those buildings up a bit, have not addressed the wishes of the residents.” (Ithaca Planning Board Meeting, June 21, 2016, p. 8).
  • Further, Fred W., the Ithaca Planning Board Chair, believes Cornell is “fostering their problems onto us and the neighbors” and that “enough is enough.”

“We certainly plan to be as responsive as necessary” – Jeffrey Resetco of EdR.  According to Wendy W., resident of Ithaca, however, the concerns of the residents have not been addressed. (Ithaca Planning Board Meeting, June 21, 2016, p. 8).

#DoesCornellCare that EdR broke its promise to work with local union labor?

In 2016, Jeffrey Resetco assured the Ithaca Planning Board multiple times that EdR would use Lechase Construction to “work with local union labor.” Resetco did not follow through with its promise.

#DoesCornellCare its’ developer doesn’t take responsibility for the Maplewood construction delays?

After the Maplewood Redevelopment team sought a THIRD extension for working hours on the project Planning Board Chair Fred Wilcox stated “My general sense is that they’re fostering their problems onto us and the neighbors, and that enough is enough.”

#DoesCornellCare that students have been displaced and cannot move into residential housing?

106 students will suddenly have to find alternative housing. “This is ridiculous and how did Cornell let this happen? It’s been stressful for sure. We were promised a new apartment on campus and now we will be starting the school year in a hotel. They offered us a gift card but it does not make up for all the aggravation. This is definitely not the way I wanted to start this school year.” -Maria D.