To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

China lowballs MBTA bid

Critics cite raw deal for U.S. companies


By Chris Cassidy, October 22, 2014


 EXPRESS TRAIN: Gov. Deval Patrick announces yesterday that CNR MA Corp., the Chinese bidder, plans to build Orange and Red line subway cars for the MBTA at a new factory it will build in Springfield.

The controversial train manufacturer run by the repressive Chinese government submitted an extraordinarily low bid to make new Orange and Red line subway cars that was hundreds of millions of dollars lower than its rivals, records show.

But while that may be a coup for the Patrick Administration, angry human rights and labor activists say it’s a raw deal for Chinese workers forced to toil on the cheap by their totalitarian overlords — and U.S. companies that have to compete against them.

“This happens every day,” said Charles Kernaghan of the Institute for Global 
Labour and Human Rights. “If those bids are so wildly apart, we can imagine these trains (will be) made with cheap labor in the manufacturing part of China. ... China doesn’t play on a level playing field. It has no respect for its own workers. They have zero rights. ... It’s really a rotten deal.”

The MassDOT Board of Directors is expected to vote today on whether to award China CNR Corp. the $566.6 million deal in what would be the first rail contract the company has landed­ in the United States. Other bidders included Hyundai Rotem at $720.6 million, Kawasaki at $904.9 million and Bombardier at $1.08 billion.

The Alliance for American Manufacturers — a national labor group — blasted the deal in a letter yesterday to Gov. Deval Patrick, warning that he will put other companies across the country at a competitive disadvantage in future contracts if the China contract is signed.

“By making CNR’s entry into the U.S. market possible, this procurement opens the door to unfair, state-owned competition on other rail and transit procurements throughout the United States,” executive director Scott Paul wrote. “Government-backed entities are able to undercut market prices that privately owned businesses are able to offer. It is cheating, plain and simple, and should not be rewarded using taxpayer dollars.”

MBTA officials yesterday insisted their own investigation “revealed no record of violations of human rights against workers by China CNR Corporation Limited,” known as CNR MA Corp. in the Bay State subway deal.

State officials claim the project will be an economic boon for Springfield, creating 250 new manufacturing and construction jobs at a new 150,000-square-foot factory. CNR MA will invest $60 million of its own money in the facility, said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

State officials have issued conflicting figures about the deal over the past year. Patrick told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce last October that the project was a “$1.3 billion procurement to replace decades-old Orange and Red Line trains with new and modern equipment.”
Even the T’s own press 
release last year referred to it as a “$1.3 billion procurement to replace ... Red Line cars and ... Orange Line cars.”
But Pesaturo yesterday walked back the cost of the subway cars, saying the $1.3 billion figure also includes necessary upgrades to subway signal systems and an expansion to maintenance 
facilities in Medford and South Boston.