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UBC takes fight for workers online Posted by on

It's not surprising that Carpenters union organizers in Tacoma, Washington have been visiting the jobsite of a $1 billion mixed-use waterfront development. And given that the project isn't 100% union, it's not surprising that there are some very shady things going on.

What's surprising is that an investigation by state and federal authorities was triggered by a video union carpenters produced featuring workers from the site that they then posted on YouTube.

Welcome to tech-savy world of organizing in the UBC. The Seattle-Times just published the story, detailing some of the ugly results of the investigation. Here's the YouTube video.

Make sure to check out the other videos posted on YouTube by our Brothers in the Pacific Northwest, under the name peterjmaguire. Good stuff, very good stuff.

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with Jimmy Haun, an organizer with the PNWRCC who was quoted in the newspaper article. The article was a little incomplete. Several of the workers have been suffering some serious health problems, he said, including loss of hair, sores on their hands and feet and other pretty scary stuff.

Carpenters Local 210 speaks out on National Carpentry Posted by on

Glenn Marshall, President of Carpenters Local 210 in Fairfield County, Connecticut, recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Stamford Advocate. It was published only weeks the news broke that National Carpentry's CEO John Kirk was arrested and arraigned on charges he cheated dozens of workers out of pay.

National Carpentry was also one of five subcontractors hired by AvalonBay that was cited for violations after an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General for violations on three AvalonBay sites in Massachusetts.

Marshall's letter focused on Harbor Point, a multimillion-dollar project in Stamford's South End. In discussing ongoing concerns there, he referenced National Carpentry. A portion of that the letter follows.

"I strongly believe our contractors and skilled workers can compete with any out-of-state competition as long as everyone obeys state and federal labor and tax laws. My greatest fear is that as the economy continues to spiral downward, construction users and developers will be tempted to use companies like National Carpentry Contractors, which recently worked on the East Side Commons condominiums on East Main Street and Glen View House on Glenbrook Road -- developed by Seth Weinstein of Hannah Real Estate Investors and Ray and Paxton Kinol of Stillwater Investments.

National Carpentry, based in Tennessee with an office now on High Ridge Road, has repeatedly appeared in The Advocate for all the wrong reasons. Back in March, the Connecticut Department of Labor issued numerous stop-work orders on the Stamford projects for the contractor's failure to pay workers' compensation insurance. And more recently, 34 workers on the same projects, with the support of the Connecticut Legal Services and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, sued National Carpentry for failing to pay the workers more than $250,000 in back wages.

Mayor Malloy has worked diligently to revitalize Stamford's downtown with a combination of housing, retail and transit-oriented development, creating thousands of construction jobs for local contractors, workers and suppliers. But as the global economy continues its freefall, I worry Stamford will become the "city that works" for out-of-state contractors that illegally cut costs by flagrantly breaking state and federal labor and tax laws while the rest of us are left out in the cold."

Glenn Marshall

Herald doubles down on AvalonBay sub Posted by on

A day after the Herald exposed the rampant violations by subcontractors on multiple AvalonBay sites in Massachusetts, they've picked up on the arrest and arraignment of one of those same subs in Connecticut.

John Kirk, CEO of National Carpentry, is the subject of today's bad news.

"In the civil lawsuit, the day laborers accused Kirk of violating payroll laws by using secret time cards and cash payments. The suit also alleges National Carpentry failed to pay overtime and minimum wage and eventually stopped paying workers altogether."

"After the suit was filed, Connecticut labor officials investigated. Kirk was arrested Feb. 12 and arraigned yesterday in Connecticut Superior Court. He faces up to $5,000 in fines or five years in jail."

Roof is gone, steel skeleton dismantle begins Posted by on

The roof of the existing building has been completely removed.

Here??s a shot from just a week ago when the roof removal had just begun:

With the roof removed, crews started dismantling the steel skeleton of the second floor.

The steel beams that were once under the roof are removed first. Instead of undoing each bolt that holds the beams in place, the crews actually cut the beams out but burning them at each end (pictured below). Once all of the beams are down, the columns will be removed in a similar fashion. The majority of the column is removed using the burning technique, however the base of each column will is removed by undoing the bolts where the column attaches to a steel plate in the concrete floor.