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Archive for Thursday, July 7, 2011

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

July 7, 2011

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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.”

Comments

Jake Esau 3 years, 5 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.

llama726 3 years, 5 months ago

Fair competition including illegal immigrant labor. You're cool with that, right?

Flap Doodle 3 years, 5 months ago

If all the illegals are back on the correct side of the border, that won't be an issue, now will it?

Eride 3 years, 5 months ago

They aren't necessarily using illegal labor. In the current construction economy there are a lot of out of work construction workers who are happy for any employment regardless of the wage.

I am sure there are plenty of people out there willing to do drywall work for much, much less than $32 an hour.

Also, let's be honest. Drywallers are not carpenters. I am not sure if that quoted wage is supposed to apply to all construction workers (doubt it) or just highly skilled carpenters with their own tools (more likely) so taking that into account the quoted rate by the union is probably incorrect for the type of employment anyways.

llama726 3 years, 5 months ago

$32 an hour isn't their wage. Stop representing it as such. It's a combination of their wage and all their benefits, including insurance (which is very expensive). The value of their wage and all benefits is $66,500 per year if they're working 40 hours a week (and many in construction are not).

biffula 3 years, 5 months ago

$32 bucks an hour for drywall hanging, now thats a joke. If that's the case I say he11 yeah use illegals. Unions just dont get it. No wonder companies are outsourcing their work. $32 an hour is a joke. All that nonsense does is drive up costs for everyone. I remember touring a factory in Ohio back in the early 90's. There was a guy sitting on a stool watching cans go by. He was making sure the labels were on correctly. He made $25 an hour plus bennies for that. Needless to say the work is done overseas now. Want to know why? Cause that wasnt a realistic wage for that job. Way to price yourselves out of the market unions. Good thinking.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 months ago

I bet the execs in the companies you refer to do all of their work sitting down, and get way more than $32 an hour.

notanota 3 years, 5 months ago

Then why don't you go ahead and outsource that drywall work to China.

Liberty275 3 years, 5 months ago

I outsource all of my drywall work... to me. Plumbing, electrical, HVAC, automotive, lawn equipment and anything like that too.

I say let them charge what they want (the subcontractors and all drywall hangers). If they price themselves out of the market, they'll get little work.

On a side note, kansas being a right to work state, can't the contractor fire all the union shops and rehire scabs?

imastinker 3 years, 5 months ago

Why would you need to? They can outsource to nonunion jobs right here in the state.

sunnmoon 3 years, 5 months ago

What an amazing deduction. The UNIONS did it. Corporations are posting record profits. But because of the unions, they have to outsource their manufacturing or work. If these businesses cant make any money because of the unions, is that also the reason they pay little if ANY taxes? I wonder what happened to our economy...WAIT I KNOW>>>THE F"N UNIONS. Christ. Go back to sticking your head in the sand.

xclusive85 3 years, 5 months ago

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

jackpot 3 years, 5 months ago

Don't forget the Lawrence schools too.

dncinnanc 3 years, 5 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'...

Gedanken 3 years, 5 months ago

Hey now! Now I am confused at what stand I should take. The illegals are taking our jobs. The unions are killing our country. Businesses doing whatever they want for their own self-interest is the American way ... I wish Rush was here to help me sort this all out.

sherbert 3 years, 5 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.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 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.

jafs 3 years, 5 months ago

That assumes that the carpenters in question are working full 40 hr weeks all year.

With the current economy, I think that's highly unlikely.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

True, but many of these seasonal jobs entail overtime at time and a half, and when they are laid off, the workers are entitled to unemployment benefits, which is not a lot, but is typically subsidized by working "under-the-table" for cash.

The men and woman on this job project are hardly what one would refer to as "underclassed."

The problem with today's organized labor is that they have abandoned the concept of "worker solidary" across industry lines. In its heyday, trade unionists used to comprise more than 40 per cent of the work force. i believe that figure has now dropped to single digits.

I am much more concerned with the struggle for a living wage for all workers as opposed to enriching the elite few of today's labor force.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

True, but many of these seasonal jobs entail overtime at time and a half, and when they are laid off, the workers are entitled to unemployment benefits, which is not a lot, but is typically subsidized by working "under-the-table" for cash.

The men and woman on this job project are hardly what one would refer to as "underclassed."

The problem with today's organized labor is that they have abandoned the concept of "worker solidary" across industry lines. In its heyday, trade unionists used to comprise more than 40 per cent of the work force. i believe that figure has now dropped to single digits.

I am much more concerned with the struggle for a living wage for all workers as opposed to enriching the elite few of today's labor force.

shaunepec 3 years, 5 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.

newmedia 3 years, 5 months ago

And don't forget the first and most important deduction taken - union dues...

kansanbygrace 3 years, 5 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.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

I doubt that the workers on this project are "unskiilled" as your post suggests. Doug Compton is too savy a businessman to allow that.

Clark Coan 3 years, 5 months ago

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

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

Definiton of "scab":

a. A worker who refuses membership in a labor union. b. An employee who works while others are on strike; a strikebreaker. c. A person hired to replace a striking worker.

The term simply doesn't apply to the current situation. The company involved is a non-union shop. No one is on strike, and the folks working on the project have not replaced striking workers.

I would suggest you use the term "scab" with a little more discretion.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

"They are nonunion carpetbaggers who are taking jobs from Kansans"

Your comment proves the point I am trying to make. The trade unionists of yesteryear would never distinguish between in-State and out-of-state workers. Trade union solidarity meant solidarity, period, without regard to local or state boundaries, race, religion, national origin, or skill level

The trade union movement of the last forty years has pissed away most of the monumental victories of the first six decades of the last century. Union busting politicians such as Ronald Regan didn't help matters, but he couldn't have done it without the complicity of union lackeys and bureaucrats who spouted the same rhetoric as yours, Quivira.

jafs 3 years, 5 months ago

But they would certainly distinguish between union and non-union labor, I would think.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

The trade union movement of past did not have contempt for non-union workers, and would never call them names. Instead, the trade unionists would try to educate them in the advantages of a union and organize them. Name calling was not part of the strategy. A non-union worker was not a called a scab, but instead, a brother in need of help--help meaning organization into a trade union. That is how the trade union movement in America grew from virtually nothing at the turn of the century to nearly half the labor force by the early sixties.

A scab, i.e, a non-union worker who crosses a picket line? That's a completely different animal. Scabs were considered enemies of the working class and were treated with utter contempt. But the workers at the project in question are not scabs. They are simply not organized. And such organization is very difficult to accomplish in a so called right-to-work state like Kansas. The solution is to change the laws, and not pit non-union workers against union workers. Sadly, today's Kansas trade union leaders just don't get it, and they are partially to blame in the demise of the working class as middle-class.

jafs 3 years, 5 months ago

Ok.

But, you can't change the laws when you have anti-union politicians in power.

And, I see no evidence of this union calling anybody names - they're simply protesting the hiring of non-union labor.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

"But, you can't change the laws when you have anti-union politicians in power".

Solution: elect politicians who represent the people instead of the wealthy. Admittedly, a tall task in our so-called democracy when elections are determined over 90 per cent of the time by who can raise the most cash.

Regarding the name-calling, I am not referring to the pickets, but instead another poster who called the project workers scabs and carpetbaggers.

cjeter 3 years, 5 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.

llama726 3 years, 5 months ago

You think your cushy IT job is harder than construction?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 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.

pizzapete 3 years, 5 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.

kansasfire911 3 years, 5 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!"

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

Come all of you good workers, Good news to you I’ll tell, Of how that good old union Has come in here to dwell.

cho: Which side are you on? Which side are you on? Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner, And I’m a miner’s son, And I’ll stick with the union, Till every battle’s won.

They say in Harlan County, There are no neutrals there. You’ll either be a union man, Or a thug for J.H. Blair.

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.

justforfun 3 years, 5 months ago

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

sunnmoon 3 years, 5 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 months ago

"Doug Compton has been very anti-union forever as far as I know."

From what I've seen of Compton projects, most of his employees bite their tongues when he comes on site, waiting for His Pompousness to leave so that they can get back to doing their jobs-- he's largely ignorant about most aspects of construction.

Lee Eldridge 3 years, 5 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 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."

That's pretty much the whole idea behind "globalization," "free trade" and "right-to-work."

And the corporatists behind these ideas won't rest until $8 an hour sounds good for everyone but themselves.

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