There is still a lot of labor to be done on the $300 million Santa Clara Valley Medical Center project, but the main work is going on behind the scenes as the county and Turner construction get ready for a showdown meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
In a story NBC Bay Area first broke, Santa Clara County set a Tuesday deadline for the Turner Construction Company to show it can complete a hospital bed building in a timely manner – or be fired. Turner was supposed to have the medical facility ready for a Sept. 19, but the building is not even close to being finished, despite years of construction.
On this Labor Day it seemed appropriate to address what might happen to all the workers on this massive construction project if Turner gets fired or decides it cannot meet the county's terms.
The county on Friday set conditions Turner would have to meet to stay on the project it started six years ago. The terms included rigid construction deadlines, insured with a multi-million dollar line of credit, and strict safety measures.
"We've seen obviously that Turner has had some safety problems and therefore, tomorrow, we’ll look for some evidence, some proof, that they're going to improve their safety record,” said county executive Jeff Smith.
The county has accused Turner of not taking the hospital project seriously and believes the construction company even diverted subcontractors to its Levi's Stadium project.
Turner blames county mismanagement, citing thousands of changes the county requested.
Caught in the middle are about 130 construction workers. Many of them approached NBC Bay Area and asked what will happen to them if the project is halted.
"If Turner gets fired, I think the workers should be okay,” said Ben Field of the South Bay Labor Council. “I have every expectation that the county will treat them fairly and I've had some assurances that would be the case."
The county said it is taking protective steps for the workers.
"The workers can know that they'll have a job,” Smith said. “Even if Turner leaves, any new contractor that comes on will be required to keep those workers on board."
Turner Construction said it will not comment on the VMC project until Tuesday.