Labor For Hire (Certain Restrictions Apply)

When comedian Henny Youngman discovered that the William Morris Agency moved across the street from his apartment, he posted a sign in his window which read, "Book Thy Neighbor."

Wouldn't it be great if Tweed Airport Executive Director Tim Larson looked through binoculars out his office window and saw the same sign on top of the General Construction and Laborers office? Better yet, the same sign, signed by them across the street from East Haven Town Hall.

By no strange coincidence, the Laboreres' office is located right in East Haven's industrial park. They have a great view of the planes on final approach to Runway 2. The union represents some 1,200 workers.

But you know, that's the funny thing about labor unions in Southern Connecticut: Throughout public hearing after public hearing concerning Tweed, NO labor union, public or private, has EVER weighed in on the airport. Now when you consider they've had a long history of supporting a number of public works projects, from the late New Haven Colisseum to the thwarted New Haven Mall, and beyond.

You would think that, if anything, they would be right on board for something that would involve construction on a significant scale. I mean think about it:

Airports, like Disney's theme parks, are never "finished." They are constantly evolving to accomodate the shifting air transportation landscape, unlike a building which, once it's completed, should be called a "built," because that's pretty much it. Airports tend to generate other aviation-related (and union-worked) businesses. It wouldn't be just the construction unions that would win out.

And, if that's not enough, that schlep across the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge would be eliminated because the work is right in our own backyard. (As an aside, I recall that, when the Sally Jesse Raphael show was locating to New Haven, the show's employees were notified in St. Louis NOT to move east of New Haven because of the notorious bridge traffic. And no one in New Haven knew there was an airport near their prospective home?)

And,when you consider the diminishing ranks of the private sector unions (versus their public sector counterparts), maybe letting the airport build wouldn't be such a bad deal.

Yet you would be hard-pressed to find a union official who would step up to the mic and say, "While we can sympathize with the homeowners, there can be little benefit to sitting in your home in silence while you agonize over what to cut back on next because there's no work."

I don't know. Maybe the unions have lost their power. It certainly seemed to be the case when Connecticut Limousine's employees went on strike for better working conditions and the company dispatched the union, this years before President Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.

But if the unions STILL have a voice, I would think that, in a "blue-collar" town like East Haven, the Laborers can take the lead in opening up the region to a whole host of airport-generated projects.

It's not too late to paint that sign, guys.