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By Adam Sichko

June 21, 2011

Labor unions protested Tuesday at the site of FedEx Corp’s distribution center under construction in East Greenbush.

Unions complained about $4 million of up-front tax breaks given to FedEx (NYSE: FDX) to build the facility, set to open sometime next year.

The 73-acre site, a prime spot on Route 4 just off Interstate 90, is the former home of an Albany International Corp. manufacturing site that shut down in 2007. (For more, see

FedEx has said it will move its approximately 250 workers in Guilderland and Colonie into the new building, and add jobs in the years after that. The new building will cost $45 million, with FedEx planning spend $20.6 million more on equipment.

Unions complained that FedEx was not adding enough jobs to justify the tax breaks and a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement.

A report from the Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency says FedEx will create four full-time jobs and 133 part-time positions. Many of those are expected to be classified as independent contractors, saving FedEx tax money, union officials said.

“Four full-time jobs for $4 million in tax exemptions? Not including the PILOT?” asked Prairie Wells, political director for local 2 of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers union. “They are not creating good jobs for local residents.”

The unions also said most construction jobs were going to out-of-state workers. The general contractor is WDG Construction Group Inc., a company based in Indiana that has done work for FedEx before.

“Those construction jobs may be good jobs, but they’re not going to local people,” Wells said.

A FedEx spokesman said the East Greenbush site is central to expanding the company’s network.

Wells, of the bricklayers union, sits on the board of the city of Albany’s IDA. She maintained the union is not trying to undercut business.

“We’re very much pro-business. If small businesses don’t succeed, our members don’t get work,” she said. “This is a perfect example of what the potential is for this kind of development, and what’s wrong with the way the current system is set up.”

To read the full article, visit the Albany Business Review.