Union carpenters picket at Atlantis

Protestors stood outside Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead this week decrying owner Jim Bissett’s use of a subcontractor who does not pay “area standard wages” to perform concrete work at the 100-room hotel being built next to the aquarium.

On Tuesday, two men standing near a large banner handing out fliers on behalf of the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters declined to be interviewed. The fliers state that Ronkonkoma-based Concrete Structures Inc., which was subcontracted by builder J. Petrocelli Inc., does not meet area union standards because it does not fully pay for family health insurance or pensions for all its workers.

“Shame on Jim Bisset [sic] for desecration of the American Way of Life,” the flier reads.

It is not clear how long the protesters stood outside the East Main Street aquarium. Calls to the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters were not returned.

Mr. Bissett defended his contractor, explaining that he is using many family members on the job and a lot of the same workers who built the aquarium, which opened in 2000.

“We certainly have qualified contractors on the job,” he said. “They’ve always done a great job for us.”

He said an open bid process was not used for the project, which probably angered the carpenter’s union. “There’s not that much [construction work] going on right now,” he said.

Atlantis hopes to have its Hyatt Place Hotel, along with new exhibit space for the adjacent aquarium, open by next June.

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