Construction contractors do not perform work for sheer fun. One may refer to the free market, incentives, or a similar term, but the notion that work is performed for pay is a constant.
The past few Saturdays I have noticed construction workers active on the parking garage at the confluence of College and Broad Ripple Avenues and Westfield Boulevard. Several points need to be made, based on what I learned from my old man, who was a union sheet metal contractor:
1) In the competitive bidding process, contractors calculate bids based on 40-hour work weeks and submit "blind" bids (in sealed envelopes) so the customer obtains the lowest price and the contractor makes some profit.
2) Construction crew members are paid time-and-a-half for work over 40 hours in a week.
3) Generally the only instances in which overtime is paid is because there is a penalty provision in the contract (e.g., a football stadium is to be completed a week before the first preseason game) so a deadline will be met OR a natural disaster (e.g., tornado) sweeps through and people have to work to catch up.
4) Generally—again, generally—all the trades work at the same times because different aspects of a project have to be coordinated.
5) If overtime is paid, it comes out of someone’s pocket. If it is the contractor’s fault—a deadline will be missed because feet have been dragged—the pocket is that of the contractor. If a act of nature has caused the delay, contract provisions and insurance usually cover the contingency.
When I saw construction apace a couple of Saturdays ago, I thought something was out of place. If this were a project subject to principles of the marketplace, there would be no crews out there on Saturday. Bids would have been premised on a 40-hour week.
It is my understanding that the City—"we"—have paid $6 million and change so that the developer of the project can build the parking garage, and then the developer keeps 100% of the revenues from the facility. It also is my understanding that the developer contributed heavily to Mayor Ballard’s campaigns. If I say "my understanding" a few times, the City has not been "transparent" as to all the details of the deal.
There was a delay in construction, but, from what I have read, that was due to the developer, who insisted on the edifice being built in violation of regulations of buildings in flood plains, such as the area in which this facility is located. If the contractor causes the delay, that usually kicks in a penalty. Here, however, the contractor receives money from the City and reaps the profits once the facility is built.
This means that the contractor wants to build the garage as fast as possible, regardless of the cost—because we, not it, pays for it—to get the structure up and running to rake in dough.
The location of the structure is not good. The intersection already is congested. The facility blocks the views of drivers and riders of bikes eastbound on Westfield and northbound on College. We are paying the complete price for something the profits from which a private entity will receive.
At least those construction workers receive good pay to put the damn thing up.