Dozens of people protest bottling plant conditions - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Dozens of people protest bottling plant conditions

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Dozens of people protested the under-construction Niagara Bottling Plant in Bloomfield Tuesday. (WFSB photo) Dozens of people protested the under-construction Niagara Bottling Plant in Bloomfield Tuesday. (WFSB photo)

Dozens of people protested working conditions at an under-construction bottling plant in Bloomfield.

The groups Building Trades Affiliates and Save Our Water said they joined together for the protest against the Niagara Bottling Plant at Bloomfield Town Hall.

About 40 demonstrators arrived around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

"We feel that if tax money is going to be allowed to Niagara water, Niagara bottling, they should be using local residents who are paid a living wage," said Joe Toner, president, Hartford Building Trades Council.

They said proponents of the Woodland Avenue plant promised that Niagara would bring jobs and economic development to the town and region. However, they claim the company is using out-of-state workers and few, if any, Bloomfield residents at the construction site.

The groups also said the company is paying wages and benefits below the standard in the region.

Niagara has said that its project would create 120 jobs.

"Once a private company comes in to do construction, it’s up to them to do the hiring," said Mayor Joan Gamble. "And we were told by Niagara 75 percent of the employees are local. I went on the site and seen the trucks there with Connecticut plates.”

Save Our Water said local leaders gave out too much in tax breaks.

"They gave them a 4.9 percent tax abatement with the promise they would provide local jobs - that was the reason - it was good for our community. We go by and see the union protesting because they are not getting jobs," said Donna Landerman of Save Our Water CT.

However, Niagara has said it would only use 2 percent of the daily water supply and pay the same rate as other customers.

Residents in Bloomfield have been voicing opinions against the plant for months. Over the winter, more than 150 of them attended a meeting during which they expressed concern for the town's water supply.

It's a fight that's hardly exclusive to Connecticut.

A state bill that would have limited water the facility could use and require state regulation failed in the state legislature this year.

The town is considering changes to its tax abatement policies, but any changes implemented are not expected to impact the agreement with Niagara.

Perhaps an even bigger issue is a fight being waged across the country. Big private companies like Niagara and Nestle are making a lot of money from public drinking water. While some communities are saying 'no,' others are getting it whether they like it or not.

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