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

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.”