Lawsuit filed against Metro over Music City Center workers - WSMV News 4

Lawsuit filed against Metro over Music City Center workers

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The city of Nashville is facing its first big lawsuit against the largest public construction project in city history.

A union is suing the convention center authority for access to information on its construction workforce.

The same group says it has been trying for more than a year now to determine who's really building the Music City Center.

As the Music City Center really starts to take shape, a workers union has been trying for months to find out who is really hammering the nails and pouring the concrete at the gigantic, taxpayer project.

Before they ever moved dirt for the new convention center, city leaders promised a certain percentage of local workers would build it.

"Hopefully they've kept their word, but if they have they shouldn't have anything to hide," said IUOE attorney Debbie Godwin.

For almost a year, the International Union of Operating Engineers has been trying to find out just who's working on the project.

Last December they submitted a formal request to see payroll records to learn where these workers really lived.

Three months later, the city sent a bill charging them $1,500 to mark out exactly what they were asking for - the home addresses of workers listed on some 4,000 documents.

So in July, the union asked for more payroll records. And a few months later came another hefty bill, and again, the information revealing home addresses was marked out.

So this week, they filed this lawsuit demanding answers for taxpayers.

"They are supposed to have those records accessible to the public, so we are doing this on behalf of all Tennesseans," Godwin said.

Holly McCall with the Music City Center says they've given out a county-by-county breakdown of where contracted employees live.

"We've already provided this union with quite a bit of personal information," McCall said.

But in some cases, they don't even have employee's addresses.

"State law does not require contractors to put home addresses on their certified payrolls, so in our case, we have some certified payroll with home addresses and some contractors don't have it," McCall said.

"We want to change things for the better, for the Tennessee residents in the future and to try to show that the vast majority at the beginning of the job was not from Tennessee," said Red Patterson, with the International Union of Operating Engineers.

There may be some legal ammunition on the unions' side.

In 1996, another city agency, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, was required to share payroll information, including addresses as part of the Tennessee Public Records Act.

McCall said Tuesday that they have been advised by the state office of open record council that this is a gray area and they do not necessarily have to release these records.

The chancellor will set a hearing date and rule on this suit, most likely within weeks.

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