Anti-union Munilla Construction Management donated $50K to Gov. Rick Scott and his political committee while bidding
on the project
Miami, FL – The bridge collapse at Florida International University (FIU) March 15 killing six people was built by virulently non-union Munilla Construction Management, which the South Florida Building and Construction Trades Council described as hostile to union organizing.
Florida is a “right-to-work” state.
Shortly after the pedestrian bridge was built, concerns started to grow about the conditions of the span. Although it was allegedly built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, a crack formed on the north span before it even opened.
Two days before the collapse, an engineer working on the project left a voicemail with the Florida Department of Transportation, warning them that there was a crack in the structure that would need to be fixed immediately. The voicemail was not listened to until the day after the collapse.
FIU uses union labor on some of its projects, including recent work on the university’s dormitories and parking garages, but decided to cut corners on the pedestrian bridge project and gave the job to the politically connected, non-union MCM.
According to POLITICO, state campaign finance records show MCM donated nearly $50,000 to Scott and his affiliated political committee at the same time MCM was bidding on the project, and the company has made some $250,000 in state political contributions in recent election cycles.
While it is not clear whether the political contributions helped MCM win the bid for the pedestrian bridge, it may well have led FDOT, which is overseen by Scott, to not look closely at the work that was being done by the non-union workers at MCM.
The Scott administration quickly worked to distance itself from the collapse, claiming it was strictly an FIU project, but documents from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the university paint a different picture.
“It’s not an FDOT project,” Scott said during a press conference the night the bridge fell. “It’s an FIU project.”
State records indicate otherwise. As recently as September 2016, more than 10 months after the selection of the firms to design and build the project, FDOT reviewed all construction-related material.
“The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently reviewing 100 percent of CDs [construction documents] for the bridge foundation, roadway and superstructure,” read a Sept. 1, 2016 agenda for the FIU Board of Trustees Finance and Audit Committee.
FDOT sent out a “preliminary fact sheet” hours after the disaster saying it was a “local agency project, not a Florida Department of Transportation project.”
Pressed by POLITICO, the transportation department issued a statement saying it “coordinates” with certified local agencies but that it was not involved in specific details.
The Miami Herald reported FDOT was part of the committee that selected MCM, attended regular meetings on the project and had input on design and location, had input on dozens of planning details and had officials at a meeting with engineers hours before the bridge collapsed.
(Information from POLITICO, the Miami Herald and Union Communications Consulting Services.)