Archive for Thursday, July 7, 2011

Union members protest First Management construction project at Ninth and New Hampshire

July 7, 2011


Dan Bays, a member of the Carpenters' Union Council, protests Wednesday across the street from the construction project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The union has a labor dispute with one of the contract companies hired by First Management for the project.

Dan Bays, a member of the Carpenters' Union Council, protests Wednesday across the street from the construction project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The union has a labor dispute with one of the contract companies hired by First Management for the project.

Members of a local union have been protesting the construction project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets with a large sign that reads “Shame on First Management.” The protest is related to a dispute about wages and benefits with a contract company hired by First Management — Drywall Systems of Wichita.

Here’s what the sides say about the issue:

• The Carpenters’ Union Council, Topeka office: Drywall Systems pays “well below” the local standard wage — around $32 with benefits included — for those performing carpentry work, said Dave Wilson, Union Council spokesman. Wilson said the union contacted First Management and asked them not to hire the company because of the wage issues, but did not receive a response. Wilson said not paying a standard wage undermines other local businesses trying to compete for contracts.

• First Management: The union’s dispute is with Drywall Systems and “does not directly involve First Management,” said Robert Green, construction director, in a statement emailed to the Journal-World. Green also said that the construction is a “non-union project, therefore First Management is not required to use union subcontractors.”


Lee Eldridge 2 years, 9 months ago

With millions unemployed and millions more under employed, $32 per hour, even including benefits, sounds pretty darn good to a lot of people. We're talking about a suitable wage for hanging drywall, not building a space station.

Making an assumption that they're hiring undocumented immigrants is irresponsible.


sunnmoon 2 years, 9 months ago

Doug Compton has been very anti-union forever as far as I know. Cuts into HIS bottom line. I am sure he pays his higher ups decently. The majority of the workers, not so well. All union members want is a fair slice of the pie. Why should one or two people get the lions share of the profits, when paying a fair wage creates loyal hard working employees? Do you ever see your boss or business owner driving in a totally kick ass car and wonder why he or she deserves any better than you? Why do they get to live in that huge home, while you work your ass off sun up to sun down, and they leave everyday at two to go play golf. What constitutes a FAIR wage? Is it just the number on the check? Not so much any more. Union Carpenters in this market get a good wage, about 21 per hour. They also get health care and pension. They also pay dues and training. Most non union, or brothers in need of organizing, make less. I would guess the average between 12- 15. Minimal training provided because of very high turnover. Lets face it, construction is not for the faint hearted. The extreme temperatures, dangerous working conditions, and the very physical nature drive most people away. What does the Carpenters union offer? TRAINING. Training in OSHA, workplace safety, job training in all aspects of carpentry. From the foundation to the lock on the front door. Residential, commercial, and industrial. Tell me which you would rather hire...A well trained tradesman with consistent employment in the field and top teir training in all aspects of the trade, or a person with little training who has inconsistent employment in the field or can only do one or two things and not very well? Lets also keep in mind that Kansas is a right to work state, SO union membership here is VOLUNTARY at best. Most members are so because of tradition or belief in labor. Without unions, what would your workplace conditions be? Would it be safe? Would you be paid fairly, or at all? Would you have any benefits? I believe that if the unions were gone, it would be a race to minimum wage, and a big push to lower that. What about misclassified/ undocumented workers? Should they be allowed to be taken advantage of the many ways they are? The Carpenters Union does not think so. Getting legislation out to help get those people documented, safe working and living conditios, Fair wages, and alot of times lost wages. This is not just a union/ non union issue. Not just a consruction issue. This is becoming much bigger and much more insidious. I don't see why people would not want to support an organization that is out in the public eye fighting for it the rights of its own members, as well as those of all labor, be it construction or computers. Support comes in a lot of ways. We support you.


justforfun 2 years, 9 months ago

I LOVE the banner! It has a removable panel where FMI is right now. Next time someone else. LOL


oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 9 months ago

I thought Lawrence was to pay a living wage of $9.73 an hour? wasup?

Did the wage go up?


kansasfire911 2 years, 9 months ago

"Oh workers can you stand it? Oh tell me how you can. Will you be a lousy scab or will you be a man? Don't scab for the bosses, don't listen to their lies, us poor folks haven't got a chance unless we organize!"


pizzapete 2 years, 9 months ago

Yea, I wish they were out there picketing with signs that read "don't steal our parking garage" or "the parking garage is public not private" or "this should never have been approved" etc.


Richard Heckler 2 years, 9 months ago

And the project wants tax dollar assistance for parking.

Why wasn't the parking a major part of the initial discussion long before approval?

How can parking benefits receive approval after the fact..... ethically?

It seems parking should be part of the site plan at the planning commission and city commission.

Always remember the lower the community wages the higher the taxes.


Whathefk 2 years, 9 months ago

35 bucks an hour to hang sheet rock?. LOL. Be careful, far east labor is coming to America soon just like the junk we buy from there today. You think things are bad now.. Should of took that pay cut to save your "jobs" rather than strike for more money just so you can pay for that big house and big red truck in your knew concrete drive in the posh neighbor want-a-be-hood that you live in. Not to single out any one trade but it seems to me this is the type of greed that's killing this country, from union labor to p.o.s. government folks to the almighty rich. They are all corrupt. I was a union member for 30 years back in the day, so was my father. Back then those were UNIONS ! The days when unions meant something. Now, it's just greed like everywhere else. How sad :(


cjeter 2 years, 9 months ago

32 bucks an hour, sheesh I guess I better go learn to hang drywall instead of all of this IT junk filling up my head.


Clark Coan 2 years, 9 months ago

These workers on site are SCAB workers fromTexas. They are nonunion carpetbaggers who are taking jobs from Kansans.


kansanbygrace 2 years, 9 months ago

Nope, consumer, the labor costs about $30.00 including benefits. The worker gets maybe 18-20. It's demanding work that requires skill and knowledge and judgment and the ability to withstand direct heat for 8 or so hours. It's certainly worth a liveable wage. Ive done it and it is a lot more demanding than bookkeeping or mid-level IT operations, for example, or retail, or..... The cheap unskilled scab labor bought by skim-off thieves in the role of "builder" and "contractor" are why the buildings come out crap and leak from the first rain 'til they're demolished.


shaunepec 2 years, 9 months ago

Just to be clear sherbert, the $32 an hour figure includes $5 for healthcare, $3.70 for pension. So, the number we normally see and consider an hourly wage would be around $23-$25 depending on specific job type.


Bob Forer 2 years, 9 months ago

I have always supported organized labor, but I doubt these folks will receive much sympathy from the Lawrence community. Although the $32/hr figure includes benefits, my guess is the hourly wage is in the neighborhood of $25.00, which projects out to around $50,000 per year. The workers are my no means getting rich, but at that wage, which is pretty decent in Kansas, I doubt any of the families are going hungry.

And in response to dncinnanc's comment, I doubt that this workforce has any "illegals." True, the construction industry has a reputation for hiring immigrants, some undocumented, at sub-standard wages, perhaps in the neighborhood of $12-16 per hour with no benefits. At $32/hr, I am sure Drywall Systems has no problem attracting people who have every right to work in this country.


sherbert 2 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, but in this economy, you can get a lot of hard working, well qualified American guys who would be happy to do the work. Right now it's work for less or don't work.


Stacy Napier 2 years, 9 months ago

Well of course, Unions learned a long time ago that if you build something that last you put yourself out of a job. No one will ever have to replace anything and your demand goes way down. US cars were like that for many years until the competition from the forgien market forced them to build better cars.

I for one could care less about your "illegal workers" My ancestors were came here and worked hard for less to make it before they were citizens. If you are a worker and don't like it get a different trade, or work for the same wages. $32 an hour is damm good money.


consumer1 2 years, 9 months ago

$32.00 per hour. Not bad. So if the union pays allot more, it is no wonder that building cost so much to construct and are made so cheaply. They need to be replaced in 10 years and cost another billion dollars to rebuild new Junk buildings...


dncinnanc 2 years, 9 months ago

I used to date a guy in the roofing business, and it is well known in the construction circles that those companies with substantially lower rates/wages are using illegal workers... just sayin'...


xclusive85 2 years, 9 months ago

Are these the same people that were protesting KU at the 15th/Bob Billings and Iowa intersection a few years ago?


Jake Esau 2 years, 9 months ago

So are unions going to whine and cry whenever someone is willing to do the work for a lower price? Seems like fair competition to me...

A similar group protested outside of Olathe South High School for a month or two complaining about some contractor the Olathe School District had hired to do construction work there.


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