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Union Targets NAC, Owner Says Attacks Unfair

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542 is protesting the Newtown Athletic Club's decision not to use union contractors on a multi-million dollar construction project.

An area union is publicly targeting Newtown Athletic Club owner Jim Worthington, who says the attacks are unfair and bordering on harassment. 

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542 has set up picket lines in front of the NAC as well as at Council Rock High School North. They’re protesting Worthington’s decision not to use union contractors on a multi-million dollar construction project at the health club.

The NAC is currently in the middle of making significant improvements to the facility, including construction of a new field house, turf field and outdoor pool complex complete with a lazy river.

Worthington said he considered hiring union contractors, but their bids were a third more expensive than non-union companies. He said it didn't make financial sense for his business to pay 30 percent more to get the job done. 

“We hire local contractors that pay acceptable wages,” Worthington explained, adding he has nothing to do with how much the contractors pay their employees. He said the companies are local businesses that do quality work. “A lot of these are family owned businesses; they have their kids on the job.”

But the union has a different viewpoint.

“He’s not paying a living wage to the workers there,” said union spokesman Louis Agre. According to its website, IUOE Local 542 is based out of Fort Washington and represents heavy equipment operators in the building and construction industry, along with members who are employed at quarries, landfills, shipyards, breweries, manufacturing, airports, bridges and public works.

Worthington said the picketing and protesting has become more intense over the past few days, with union members staking out at the high school and distributing a flyer that says “Wanted” with his picture underneath.  

The flyer reads “tell Jim to stop destroying the American middle class and hire contractors that pay their employees fairly.” It lists Worthington’s cell phone, his home address and his wife’s cell phone, something Worthington takes issue with.

Agre said if Worthington believes he or his family is being harassed he should call the police.

Worthington said he’s particularly frustrated that union members are trying to characterize him as greedy. “Lining my pockets, are you kidding? If they think this is some sort of money making machine, they are welcome to come take me over,” he said.  

He added that he’s taken a lot of risk to make such extensive improvements in the current economic climate. “My business is not different than any other business in America. I invest a lot of what I have into growing this business.”

He said he believes the union members are missing the big picture – that he is a local job creator who is trying to offer a top-quality product to residents at a price that’s affordable. 

“People like me get vilified. In the meantime, I have 400 employees and I’ll have another 100 this time next year.”

Pat October 29, 2012 at 12:44 AM
I would like to know how many of Jim's 400 employees are offered full-time hours, decent wages, or health benefits. Last I heard, Worthington's policy was to keep the majority of his employees working under 39 hours so that he would not have to pay into things like health benefits and 401K. Deplorable.
Bueller October 29, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Don't know how it works there with pay and benefits and don't care. I don't work there. But there are plenty of people that do who are obviously fine with how it works. If not, they wouldn't be there. But why does that matter anyway. There are plenty of business in the area that keep part timers for the same reason. I know popular supermarkets in this area that are much larger corporations than the NAC that practice that. Sounds to me like this whole blog has turned from a union issue to angry people that WANT to work or be members at the NAC but are pissed they didn't get what they wanted and were asked to leave. And I know a number of health clubs around here that tell people to leave if they are not happy also. They're just not as pretty or luxurious so people don't mind. From what's being said it sounds like you are happy you are not apart of the establishment so why so much anger. Move on.
Lookin October 29, 2012 at 02:15 AM
I work at NAC and can't afford the Benefits the Company offers. My pay is further far from a livable wage along with the hours I'm given per week to work! True, I don't have to stay here and many of us won't and some have left since the economy's starting to pick up but for now it's better than nothing! Just about all of us knows Mr. Worthington has taken advantage of the economy like many business as 'Buller' cites that don't hire full time or pay decent wages because of the saturate employment market of help. But is that fair or being a great Guy how he wants others to feel about him?
I'll be fired October 29, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Lookin... I hear you loud and clear. Maybe we should get a union at NAC to represent us. We all know you can't battle big Jim by yourself. This Article really has the whole place upside down the past two days. Maybe this will be the dawning to the Worthingtons that we should be treated like humanbeings and everyone paid a decent wage. We all saw kids working on the new project and it was a joke at work until it hit this Patch! Whos laughing now!
Sandy October 29, 2012 at 04:13 AM
What is wrong with you people who support JW. It's not like he is building a Veterans Hospital, or a homeless shelter. He is out for CASH and caters to the wealth yuppy types who think its preppy to belong to a " fancy" health club. He hires Illegal aliens and children to build huge iron structures ? I just hope no one is in there when the next storm hits. Unions serve a purpose for american workers, they make sure people like JW doesn't abuse his powers, pays fair wages, makes sure the site is safe and free from harmful chemicals/etc, supplies medical benefits and keeps people working full time. We know he can well afford to pay a little more, to ensure the safety of his employees and clients. He is nothing but a Donald Trump wannabee.
Michelle Perkins October 29, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I don't care for unions, but I dislike Jim Worthington even more. Why is he building a swim club in the middle of a corporate park? Not very appealing to me.
Michelle Perkins October 29, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Concerned, everyone here is entitled to an opinion. And yes, some employees will be happy and others won't; some customers will be happy, and others won't. They all have equal opportunity to express their thoughts here. Don't blame me for any job losses...I am not the owner who can make such decisions. And I am not jealous of a man I don't even like.
Jef October 29, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Worthington a pig!
Brandi Perkovich October 29, 2012 at 07:44 PM
As the Director of Aquatics for the Newtown Athletic Club, I can assure that this is not the response that would have been given if in fact there was a complaint of fecal matter in the pool. To insinuate that we would do anything less than follow the requirements set forth by the Board of Health is an insult to both myself and my staff here at the club. In my years here as the director, my staff and I have done a phenomenal job of keeping the pools clean and safe for swimming. We have spent a lot of time and effort in the aquatics department growning our program to be one of the best in Bucks County. Customer service is very important to all staff members here at the NAC. That being said, please direct any comments, positive or negative, directly to me, the director of aquatics, at brandi@newtownathletic.com.
Judy October 29, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I have worked part time at Newtown Athletic Club for 12 years. As with any employment there have been ups and downs and as I stated, I'm still here. I have also been offered to work full time and even given incentives if I would increase my hours. I am very busy with my family at this time in my life. Jim and management have been understanding and supportive of that decision. To those of us that work here it is more than just a gym. My children grew up here right along with other employees kids and members kids. That is compensation also that some of you may not be considering. Where else could I have worked all these years with free child care. Freedom to take off when needed. Along with looking forward to going to work everyday because of the people I work with and work for.
John F October 29, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Linda Mitchell lead the effort to keep the YMCA out of this area a few years back. Why? So the NAC could continue to gouge it customers and face little to no competition. The Newtown area could greatly benefit from a YMCA facility offering an alternative to NAC. Why doesn't NAC offer Silver Sneakers membership for seniors? Because they don't have to. Why did they vehemently oppose the YMCA before the town board? To maintain their monoploy on the Newtown market. I quit and went somewhere where they offer Silver Sneakers not NAC high prices. Can't wait to see the new rates to pay for the swimming pool fantasy land now in the works. P.S. don't think your personal goods are safe in the NAC..the place is a hot bed of theft from the parking lot to the locker room..
Kara Seymour October 29, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I would ask everyone to refrain from personal attacks. It's not useful and violates our terms of use: http://newtown-pa.patch.com/terms And before anyone attacks me -- no I am not affiliated with the NAC, no I am not trying to cover anything up, no I don't have a personal agenda. I would just like people to be civil and respectful of others. Some of the comments posted on this story are inappropriate.
Gator October 29, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I personally bid on that project and was told I was the low bidder. Only to find out they gave my price to that other contractor to beat . I guess I should hire my 6 year old to run heavy equipment and lower my price.scumbag
Tony October 30, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Newtown Res hit it right on the head! Hiring children and training them is nothing new but somehow business forgot all about it. Jim Worthington is just taking a page out of the history books of the great barons like Jay Gould who said why hire a man and have to pay him a dollar a day when you can pay a child a dime! Kids today have extreme talent most could do accounting, sales, marketing . Hell most is done by computers and once a program is learned a chimp could do it. We business owners owe a grate gratitude to Worthington! In fact in China they even have children under 18 doing surgery now, now that's progress! Thank you Jim your contribution to society will even take care of the Teacher Problem !!
Sam October 30, 2012 at 11:15 AM
BOYCOTT!!!! NAC!!!! We had a hurricane party yesterday and this topic was brought up. Two neighbors are members and won't be renewing membership at NAC. Another 2 were planing on getting membership for Christmas, and that will not occur now! Newtown united and put this place out of business!
Steve October 30, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Steve Does anyone on here actually know what unions do for everyone else's wages in the area. Without unions setting the local wage and fighting for everyone else to get a decent wage for their work. It's not union or non union it's about contractors paying their guys a fare wage. Not paying them cash and them not paying taxes and the contractor avoiding paying taxes on their workers.
Romney October 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I just needed to comment on the new NAC which the flyers seemed to have an outpouring effect. My trips to China while with Bain proved to me someone will do it cheaper all you have to do is be able to live with yourself after you exploit them. Jim you need to hold the course your on. Who cares if most of Newtown is talking behind your back don't you think that happened to me when I raided Pension Funds and liquidated businesses! You even have support apparently from some of your nitwit-employees for the moment.. I once did to! Now some are even enough of a fool to vote for me! Jim if I didn't already pick grafting Ryan as my VP I'd be lookin for qualities like you have, heartless, pompous, egotistical, and most important wharts in it for me! Willard (Mitt)
John F October 31, 2012 at 12:18 AM
LOL Mitt you got it right great post!!
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:18 PM
the union guys are a bunch of pussies.....most of them are gay
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:20 PM
stop your crying like a little baby girl...and go compete for your job like the rest of us
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:21 PM
or relocate tp p-town with the rest of your kind
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:30 PM
your a pussy too
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:31 PM
your a pussy too
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:33 PM
pussyu
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:34 PM
maybe you should grow a sac and get a real job
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:35 PM
then quit and get a real job..stop crying like a little baby
union guys are pussies October 31, 2012 at 05:36 PM
spokin like a true pussy

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