Posted Oct. 16, 2015 at 3:38 PM
Supporters of a former laborer at the Belclare project in Wellesley Square gathered last week to protest the alleged withholding of wages by a subcontractor working on the still-unfinished mixed-use development.
Julio Lima, the former laborer, said that he’s owed approximately $3,600 in unpaid wages for work he did on the site for the subcontractor Empire Construction Group. He filed a lien on the Belclare property last month for less than that amount just as other liens from former contractors on the project were settled.
Approximately two dozen workers—most of whom haven’t worked on the Belclare site specifically—joined Lima in solidarity last Friday to protest against Empire, owned by William Ashmore, and Callahan Construction, the general contractor workers said routinely employs subcontractors who exploit workers.
“You can guess part of the reason he’s making a low bid is because he’s only going to pay people two-thirds of what they’re earning on the job,” said Diego Low, director of the MetroWest Worker Center, who joined Lima and led last week’s demonstration. “Our society is living off stolen labor.”
Ashmore did not answer multiple calls seeking comment, and his voice mailbox was full.
Low was critical of Callahan, the general contractor that replaced Metric Construction after that company’s dismissal from the project late last year, for their alleged cooperation with Empire in withholding wages for workers at Belclare and other projects.
Larry Sturdivant, the project executive for Callahan, said that it’s against company policy to speak to reporters and subsequently refused to comment on the protest or the workers’ allegations.
The project faced delays that Metric and project developer Jordan Warshaw blamed on each other. Those issues included the presence of moisture that was sealed into the building and alleged incompetence on Metric’s part. Metric president and CEO Geoff Caraboolad said that the delays were primarily the result of a rushed timeline.
Warshaw said he expects residents to move into the luxury condos by early next month. He had previously targeted the end of the summer as the date for the project’s grand opening.