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Nearly $10 million in tax credits yet Tocci Building Corporation’s Commons at Providence Station project still underpays workers



The Commons at Providence Station, the $54.1 million Tocci Building Construction project that runs from the Amtrak Station to the corner of Smith and Canal Streets in Providence ran afoul of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT), through their subcontractor JS Interior Construction, for employee misclassification. The RIDLT determined that JS Interior Construction misclassified 29 workers as independent contractors. The company agreed to pay fines of $1500 per workers and pay each misclassified worker $750.

The project has received nearly $10 million in State and City credits.

The Commerce Corporation approved $5.5 million in Rebuild Rhode Island tax credits over the five-year eligibility period. The credit amount represents just over 10 percent of the total project cost. Kate Bramson at the Providence Journal reports that the Commons at Providence Station “was the first project to get the automatic tax-stabilization agreement for Capital Center and 195 projects. During that 15-year tax agreement, city calculations show the developer would owe about $5.5 million in taxes, saving an estimated $4.48 million of what would be owed without such an agreement.” Here’s a copy off the stop work order.

On Monday and Tuesday morning workers led by Justin Kelley, business agent for the Rhode Island Painters and Allied Trades Local 195 of District Council 11, held an Area Standard Wages and Benefits picket. “The workers are very badly paid, far far below what professional drywall workers make in the industry for wages and benefits,” said Kelley. Most of the drywall workers are immigrants, and are too easily being taken advantage of. The workers don’t know their rights and fear retaliation.

Though the picketers allowed workers to enter the worksite, trade union workers from companies that do bricklaying, data installation, painting and elevator construction honored the picket and did not work.

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“With all of this occurring, we are calling on the Providence City Council and Mayor of Providence to work together to pass pending language that would help prevent these sorts of embarrassing incidents, language that would attach to Tax Stabilization Agreements to ensure that workers are protected and that if labor law violations occur that developers tax breaks are revoked,” said Kelley in a statement.

“Furthermore we are calling on the State of Rhode Island to make similar attachments to Rebuild Rhode Island tax credits to ensure that tax payers at either the municipal or state level are not subsidizing criminal contractors.

“Finally we call on the powers that be at both the City of Providence and the State Government of Rhode Island to revoke the tax credits for this project in light of these appalling labor conditions and violations admittedly committed by unscrupulous subcontractors.”

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