Oct. 21, 2009
Union protests DCK's hiring
By MARK WAITE
A handful of union protesters picketed at each entrance to the federal detention center job site this week, focusing on prevailing wage disputes and the hiring of non-union labor.
"They're just paying some standard wages for the area. That's cut and dry," said Darrell Fagg, representative of Iron Workers Local 433. "They're breaking down the standard of living for us out here."
Union picketers said fellow union workers installing rebar walked off the job in sympathy Monday. They said a concrete pour had to be stopped.
But otherwise, construction seemed to be going full steam ahead as tilt-up concrete walls were largely in place and a building was taking shape in the rear of the property.
Signs carried by picketers mentioned Blanchard Hoffman Construction, a subcontractor hired by DCK Worldwide, the general contractor, to supply and erect metal buildings on the site.
"They're non-union. We live here, we want to work here," said protestor Bryan Rowe, a member of Iron Workers Local 433. "We spent $300 a week going into Vegas, why not spend $300 a week here at the house?"
Rowe said he spent eight years commuting to Las Vegas, another union worker said he spent 15 years commuting.
"They don't have union, structural iron workers here. They have union rod busters, but non-union structural hands. All the iron going up there is going up non-union," said Ed Williamson, a member of the local. "These guys, most of their hands are from out-of-state."
"There's non-union pipe fitters in there too," Williamson said. "There's quite a few iron workers out of work, union iron workers."
A man with another group of protesters said a non-union backhoe driver for a plumbing company was making $23.50 per hour with no benefits. One protestor, bundled up wearing a hood against the early morning cold Tuesday, said he underwent four years of training and has 12 years of experience as an iron worker.
"There's tons of guys out of work and we don't really see anything coming up. That's the bad part," Williamson said.
Protestors said the federal detention center isn't considered a federal job, which would require paying construction workers prevailing wage.
"If this was a federal job, we wouldn't be out here -- we'd be out here working. Then they've got to pay prevailing wage to what we make anyway," Williamson said.
Other union representatives have weighed in with their concerns over the project.
While a carpenters union representative said last week four companies they have under contract would have to pay a $4.50 per hour differential for Las Vegas workers -- an incentive to hire Pahrump workers -- Scott Wichael, business agent for the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 797, said his union waived the differential for concrete subcontractor Luccero Construction, who was merely asked to hire local labor. But Wichael said Lucero is is actually only employing one member of their union from Pahrump.
Wichael also had a concern over two companies working on the job he couldn't find on a list of companies licensed in the state of Nevada.
"It is not a federal project, there's not federal dollars in the construction activity, therefore we're not governed by prevailing wage." said Buddy Johns, senior director of project development for Corrections Corporation of America.
If it was a federal job, Johns said companies wouldn't have to be licensed in Nevada but they would have to pay prevailing wage.
Johns said all the companies working on the project are licensed in Nevada.
"All our guys have state contractor's licenses," Johns said. "All our contractors we're using are state qualified."