The City of Hartford filed a lawsuit this week against the development group that manages the Adriaen’s Landing Connecticut Convention Center and hotel, as the deadline for the center to host a national convention approaches. The United Church of Christ has threatened to move it’s 2007 national convention elsewhere if the dispute between labor and Connecticut Convention Center management isn’t worked out by June 6, the return date in the lawsuit. In the lawsuit, filed May 31, the city asks the court to rule on whether it’s able to enforce its living wage ordinance and punish the Waterford Group by taking away over $30 million in tax relief, because the company refuses to sign a labor peace agreement.
In April of this year, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, ““The City of Hartford may seek to apply its Living Wage Ordinance without fear of interference or impediment from the state.” “When construction concluded at this Adriaen’s Landing facility, so did state preemption of Hartford’s Living Wage Ordinance. The decision as to when and whether to seek enforcement is the city’s, not the state’s,” Blumenthal said April 17. Since August 2005 Adriaen’s Landing Hotel, LLC “refused, despite repeated requests to enter into a written labor peace agreement,” according to the lawsuit. This April, Len Wolman, executive director of the Waterford Group, said none of the employees at the Connecticut Convention Center have even asked to organize. He said labor issue is coming from outside groups, like Unite Here!. Click here to read the Associated Press story from June 4 on labor’s strategy. Wolman said in April that Waterford needs only to abide by the National Labor Relations Act.But according to the city’s lawsuit that’s not good enough. The lawsuit filed by Hartford Corporation Counsel John Rose, Jr. states that the tax benefit’s Waterford has received are based solely on its acceptance of a labor peace agreement and “are specifically tailored to advance or protect a proprietary financial interest the City has in the value of tax revenue generating property.”