Airport terminal may be delayed: Union dispute could slow Metro plan

Oct. 26--Construction of the new North Terminal at Metro Airport, which is slated to open next year, could face delays due to labor shortages and a dispute with one of the unions, an official said Thursday. North Terminal project director Jon...


Oct. 26--Construction of the new North Terminal at Metro Airport, which is slated to open next year, could face delays due to labor shortages and a dispute with one of the unions, an official said Thursday.

North Terminal project director Jon Hypnar, who gave the Wayne County Airport Authority board an update on the terminal's progress, said the project could face two possible disruptions.

A union representing sound and communication workers, which has a contract with North Terminal's general contractor joint venture Walbridge Barton Malow, set a strike deadline 10 days from Thursday if problems with its labor agreement are not resolved. Hypnar was unable to provide details about the nature of the union's issues, and the union couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

"It might ultimately be resolved but if there's a strike, the rest of the unions would likely not cross the picket line," Hypnar said.

The project also is facing a shortage of pipe fitters and glass workers, Hypnar said.

The terminal, to replace the Smith and Berry terminals, is to open next fall.

Additionally, airport authority officials said concessions contracts at the North Terminal will generate more than $49.2 million annually.

Stores at the Smith and Berry terminals generate $20.3 million a year in revenue.

On Thursday, the board approved 14 retail and 15 food and beverage contracts. They include several Caribou Coffees, a Ruby Tuesday's, a TGI Friday's, a Hockeytown Cafe and a spa for pedicures, manicures and massages.

The stores will employ 740 people, up from the 197 currently working at the Smith and Berry terminals.

Board members unanimously approved all contracts except for a package presented by HDS & Partners, a company headquartered in Ontario, Canada.

Board member James Settles voted against it, citing known labor disputes with the company at East Coast airports.

Jackie Kaifesh, a server with HMSHost at the Wayne County airport, was one of 25 Unite Here union members who protested the approval of that contract at an airport board meeting Thursday.

"I'm shocked and dismayed that the airport authority would want to bring in a company like HDS," said Kaifesh.

Contact MARGARITA BAUZA at 313-222-6823 or mbauza@freepress.com

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