Workers fired, replaced for not meeting quota demolishing Tubman site
One local worker is speaking out after his colleagues were fired from working on a public housing site.
The contractor for the project told the city it would hire locals from the zip code 37406 to help tear down the Harriet Tubman housing. But more than half that local work force has quit or been fired.
"If you can't do the work and you're not accustomed to the work... you're gone," said Tim Newson.
Tim Newson is one of 13 people from zip code 37406 hired to help. He quit Friday to focus on his other job. But six of his other colleagues have been fired since starting this month because they were working too slow and not meeting quota.
"People were trying very hard to meet the production goals but they just were not able to," said Director of the City's Office of Multicultural Affairs James McKissick.
James McKissick said the contractor agreed to hire 80 percent of its new employees from capable residents. The pay is $18.75 an hour in a zip code where a third of the people are living below poverty.
"That is what made it attractive to many people is that it is a general laborer position, it's just very hard, strenuous labor," McKissick said.
Newson said the temp work sounds good on the surface but that they never found capable workers and that the daily grind of meeting a quota moving bricks was never made clear.
"It's just that both sides of the story aren't being told. It's just not a real opportunity for a part time job unless you can handle it. And they did not ask for experienced people. They didn't ask for experienced people," Newson said.
McKissick said they told people who applied that the jobs are strenuous and require physical labor.
The contractor faces a daily fine is work isn't done by the March deadline. McKissick said despite the layoffs, they're on schedule.
James McKissic with the city's Office for Multicultural Affairs broke down the numbers for Channel 3:
·Six people have been laid off and replaced with workers from the 37406 zip code because after 2-3 weeks, they were unable to meet daily production goals.
·One person quit and was replaced with a worker from the 37406 zip code.
·There are still 14 people in general labor positions at the site being paid $18.75 an hour and all but one are from the 37406 zip code.
·The project is in compliance with the City's goal of 80 percent of the new hires to be residents from the 37406 zip code.
The City of Chattanooga purchased the 36-acre property in the spring for $2.6 million. The site once housed 440 units for low-income residents. The plan is to make way for a site better suited for business growth.
The planned deadline is March 31, 2015.
According to census data, more than one third of the 14,000 people living in 37406 are below the poverty level. Most of the people living in that zip code didn't graduate from college and the median household income is $26,255.