Some back to work; NYS processing large payment for SolarCity contractors

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New York State says it will make good on an estimated $80 million in late payments to contractors at Solar City as soon as Tuesday.

At least one of the major unions representing dozens of workers there returned to work Monday on a promise the money would come — while others are still holding out.

Members of the Carpenters Local 276, which represents 65 to 70 workers, were notified over the weekend and returned to work Monday morning.

As a result, there was no lost time, since layoffs didn’t technically happen until after Friday’s work day ended, according to union officials.

Local 276 council representative Daryl Bodewes said union members returned to work, but have not been paid since their last check.

They were told money would be wired late Monday or tomorrow, and Bodewes said, “We have confidence it’s going to happen.”

However, members of the larger Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 22, which has between 200 and 300 workers at the plant, did not return Monday.

Officials with that union said they haven’t been told anything — but they expect to be called back to work Wednesday. On Friday, more than 140 members of Local 22 were laid off.

Meanwhile, workers for other contractors at the South Park Avenue site, including Frey Electric and Ferguson Electric, have remained on site and were not part of the work stoppage Friday.

New York Empire State Development office officials say their official $82 million payment will be issued soon.

“The state is processing $82 million in payments for Riverbend, which is slated to be delivered to SUNY Poly and disbursed as soon as tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1, 2016,” Jason Conwall, an Empire State Development official, said. “All stakeholders have been alerted and this action will bring payments current. The project is slated to open on time and on schedule in the Third Quarter of 2017.”

Between 900 and 1000 workers are employed at the Solar City site. The project remains on time, with an expected completion date of the third quarter of 2017.

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