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State to review $17M tax giveaway Posted by on

In late September 2014 the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (EACC) agreed to a panel review in response the New England Regional Council of Carpenters application to revoke state and local tax relief for Great Wolf. The EACC expects a status report from the panel review sometime in December. Read coverage of these recent events in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and the Fitchburg Sentinel

Learn more at nercc.org/greatwolf





Senate Republicans' Latest Attack on Davis-Bacon: A Sign of the Future? Posted by on

Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah has filed Senate Bill S2617 which, if passed, would pave the way to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. That would put millions of carpenters at risk of being paid less than the prevailing wage. Visit the UBC's website here to learn where your government representatives stand on Davis-Bacon, and vote for those who support the basic right of earning a fair wage.





Union proves worth to nonunion carpenters again Posted by on

Union representatives recently go together with more than 15 carpenters who were employed by J&V Construction to collect checks for back wages. Each of the men was issued a check for between $20,000-24,000.

The union had spoken to the men when they were working at UConn, building the new basketball training center earlier this year. After learning they were owed significant money from their employer, they encouraged and helped them file wage claims with the state.

For the individual carpenters, the checks represent a big win; significant money they had earned, but thought they'd never get. For the union and the rest of the industry, the checks are another reminder that knowing your rights and standing together to protect them is a worthwhile venture. Congratulations to these carpenters and the union representatives who helped them get justice.





CT DOL issues 3 "Stop Work" orders Posted by on

The Connecticut Labor Department has issued “Stop Work” orders against three construction companies at a shopping center construction site at 230 Industrial Park in Old Saybrook, for failing to provide the required state workers’ compensation coverage or unemployment coverage for their employees.

Two contractors, Alvin Quality Masonry LLC and Industrial Technical Services Inc. were issued “Stop Work” orders after inspectors from the Wage and Workplace Standards Division determined that the contractors, working on the Big Y supermarket project, did not have workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance coverage for employees. G&F Group LLC was issued a stop work order on the Kohl’s building project for failure to have workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance coverage and for misclassifying its employees as independent contractors.

“Stop Work” orders result in the halting of all activity at a cited company’s worksite, as well as a $300 civil penalty for each day the company does not carry workers’ compensation coverage as required by law.

The New Haven Register, The Day, The Bristol Press,  Insurance News Net and Shoreline Times reported on the story.

To view a PDF of these articles, click here.





Carpenters endorse Coakley for Mass Gov Posted by on

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters today endorsed Martha Coakley for Governor of Massachusetts, citing her experience making government work on behalf of fairness for workers and honest business.

"As Attorney General, Martha Coakley has been an advocate for working families and consumers," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the NERCC. "Her Fair Labor Division sought to limit the impact of the underground economy - protecting workers and leveling the playing field for employers that play by the rules. As a candidate for Governor, she recognizes that growing income inequality is one of the major problems facing our society. Coakley knows that advocating for workers and supporting unions is the best method to rebuild the middle class. The New England Regional Council of Carpenters is pleased to endorse Martha Coakley for Governor. We believe she will bring the lessons she has learned as Attorney General to the corner office and make Massachusetts a stronger and more equitable Commonwealth."

Coakley was proud to have the support of the Carpenters union, which boasts a strong reputation for campaign and political activism among its members.

“Together, we can create a fair economy on our terms, by leveling the playing field, protecting our workers and creating good jobs at fair wages with quality, affordable health care," Coakley said. "I am honored by NERCC's support and look forward to working with them to make Massachusetts prosperous and fair."

NERCC is the regional governing body of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, one of North America’s largest building-trades unions, with nearly a half-million members in the construction and wood-products industries. NERCC advocates for all working carpenters, unionized or not, because they believe that all workers deserve fair wages, benefits, and safe working conditions.





"Groundhog" Day at UConn? Posted by on

At least one contractor that was ordered in late February to stop working on the $32 million expansion of the UConn basketball complex because they didn't have a workers' compensation policy returned to the project. Union carpenters and students of the university have started to inform the public with a large banner in front of the project and stories in the Hartford Courant and the campus newspaper.

Intext Building Systems, Inc. of Glastonbury and JV Construction of East Hartford were issued "Stop Work" orders from the Connecticut Labor Department after a visit to the site. There were issues with workers being misclassified as "independent contractors" and some of the 19 workers could not identify their employers.

J&V Construction was found to have owed $368,000 in back wages to workers and is still barred form the site, but Intext has taken on their workers, raising questions about whether there are still issues.

Chris Gallo, a member of Carpenters Local 24 who went to work on the site after the "Stop Work" orders were issued told the Courant "It's absolutely horrible- The whole job was just a mess. We go there in the middle of it, and we get it all straightened out, and we find out the guys who messed it up are back again. How would you feel? I'm losing my job because of it. Hopefully they get a building they're looking for."





Everett mayor finds out for himself Posted by on

An unhappy Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria has a few questions for Fairfield Residential after an in-person visit to a project in the city. Fairfield is converting the old Charleston Chew factory into luxury apartments. The project has been touted as a producer of quality housing stock, but also good employment for Everett-area workers.

 When DeMaria spoke with a couple of carpenters on the project, they told the mayor they were being paid in cash on a piece-work basis and weren't getting any benefits. They were working for Wendy's Drywall, a subcontractor to VPS Drywall, a subcontractor to Metric Construction, the general contractor for one of the buildings on the project. Metric has had issues in the past with hiring subcontractors who don't meet area standards.

VPS continues a bad history. The company was ordered by the Massachusetts Attorney General to pay workers more than $4,000 in wages due to prevailing wage violations on the controversial Hannover High School project. They were also hit with more than $3,700 in fines by OSHA for safety violations, including one the agency deemed a "serious" violation. Finally, they were investigated by the United States Department of Labor for failing to pay workers more than $40,000 in overtime wages. They agreed to pay $17,500.

Carpenter Ramon Ochoa with Mayor DeMaria, NERCC Organizer Mario Mejia, Local 218 Business Agent Richard Pedi and Carpenter Moises Urias.

 Fairfield Residential is national builder and manager of multi-family housing that claims to be a leader in their industry. They claim they often work as their own general contractor and can effectively manage designs, budgets and time-lines.

 DeMaria was not happy to hear workers talk about being treated this way in his hometown and committed to following up to see that things were changed and didn't happen again.

An adjacent building, being built by union wood framers is progressing without incident.

 





B.U.H. Construction ordered to pay back wages, rehire employees Posted by on

Pennsylvania-based B.U.H. Construction has been ordered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to pay back wages of two carpenters and offer reinstatement to their former jobs or equivalent positions. The company was found to be in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

The original complaint filed by NERCC alleged that BUH Construction engaged in certain unfair labor practices by threatening three carpenters on a job at Walmart in Brooklyn, CT, and subsequently terminating two of those carpenters because it refused to pay them at the agreed-upon wage rate of $20 an hour.

In early April 2013, carpenters received pay checks that were short on hours and at a wage rate that was significantly lower than the agree upon rate. CT organizers helped the workers file wage claim forms with the Department of Labor. The carpenters were subsequently fired from the job. B.U.H. challenged the workers’ rights to unemployment benefits, claiming that they quit. Unemployment reviewed the evidence and ruled in favor of the workers. B.U.H. appealed the decision and after a formal hearing, the Unemployment Board of Review ruled in favor of the workers.

An NLRB Charge was filed against B.U.H. Construction on April 23, 2013. The basis of the charge was that workers were engaged in concerted activity when they tried to resolve issues with their pay checks and were terminated. The NERCC filed charges with the NLRB alleging that B.U.H. had violated the National Labor Relations Act when they threatened to reduce the carpenters’ wages and discharge the employees because they engaged in protected concerted activities.

In July the NLRB made a settlement offer to B.U.H. Construction, which the company rejected. A trial was held in November and the final ruling came down in early February. The ruling states that the two workers are to be made whole for any lost wages and they are to be rehired by B.U.H. Construction. B.U.H. had one month to appeal the decision.

 





CT Governor Malloy's budget gets Carpenter support Posted by on

Dave Jarvis, an organizer with the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, appeared before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee to testify in support of Governor Dan Malloy’s recently submitted Fiscal Year 2015 Mid-Term Budget.

Governor Malloy’s Mid-Term budget includes funding for six additional employees at the Department of Labor to investigate complaints and ensure employers comply with wage and workplace standards.

Jarvis urged members to support the Governor’s proposal to beef up wage and workplace enforcement as the Connecticut construction industry continues to be plagued by employers—many from out of state--who fail to properly pay their workers’ wages, misclassify their workers as independent contractors or pay them cash “off the books.”

Last year alone, the Wage and Workplace Division of the Connecticut Department of Labor handled more than 3,500 claims and recovered over $6.5 million in unpaid wages to 1,701 Connecticut workers. The Wage and Workplace Division also issued 181 Stop Work Orders to employers at construction sites who were found to be in violation of workers’ compensation and labor laws.

“It’s nearly impossible for Connecticut contractors who obey our state labor, tax and worker’s compensation laws to compete against unscrupulous companies that break these laws to gain a bidding advantage,” said Jarvis. He added, “Construction is becoming a magnet for predatory employers. The Wage and Workplace Division is on the front lines of protecting Connecticut workers and employers from these predatory contractors.”





Walsh unites Boston, elected Mayor Posted by on

Buoyed by the support of a broad coalition that included union workers, minority communities, small business owners and middle class residents, State Representative Martin J. Walsh was elected Mayor of Boston last night, defeating City Councillor John Connolly. Walsh will succeed the enormously popular Thomas Menino, who is the city's longest serving mayor.

The following statement is from Mark Erlich, Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which endorsed Walsh in both the primary and general election. Erlich is also a Boston resident.

"Last night, Marty Walsh was elected to serve as the next Mayor of Boston. Marty's victory has implications far beyond the city's borders. Boston is, in many ways, the primary economic engine of New England and the leadership at City Hall sets the tone for the regional development and construction industry. For the past 20 years, Mayor Tom Menino has been a staunch ally of construction's union sector and his stance has helped our members find gainful employment in Boston and beyond.

"Marty's election will only serve to further elevate the profile of unions in our region. As a building trades leader who spoke proudly of his involvement in the labor movement, his victory flies in the face of the prevailing political winds that dismiss or attack the value of unions in today's society. Marty had to withstand withering attacks in the Boston media that claimed he would bankrupt the city by not being able to stand up to the city's public employee unions. Marty never backed down from his loyalty to organized labor as the best vehicle to re-build the middle class in the city.

"This election has national implications. While there have been a few Senators and Congressmen that have been clear about their pro-union beliefs, it is far more rare to find someone running for an executive position -- Mayor or Governor -- who doesn't feel the need to criticize unions in an effort to show they are "fiscally responsible". Marty made it clear that you can be committed to running a sound budget in a major American city and still maintain respect for trade unions.

"Marty was also able to win the support of nearly all of the elected officials from the city's minority community, demonstrating that today's labor movement is welcoming, diverse, and inclusive.

Marty is a personal friend of ours, a friend of the Carpenters, a friend of labor, and a friend of all those people who want to work, play by the rules, and have a chance at the American Dream.

Thanks to everyone who worked to get Marty Walsh elected. It can be the beginning of a new era for labor and politics."





New London enacting local hire, training ordinance Posted by on

The city council of New London, Connecticut has approved an ordinance that will require contractors bidding for city construction projects valued at more than $1 million to hire local workers and provide apprenticeship training. New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has pledged to sign the ordinance when it reaches his desk.

The ordinance was proposed by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and publicly supported by members and NERCC Business Representative Chris Bachant. It passed the Administration Committee before winning a vote of the City Council the following week.

"This ordinance allows a percentage of workers from New London or New London County be required to work on a job,'' Bachant told the New London Day. "And any company working on a city project must comply with the Connecticut apprenticeship program. This is an opportunity. It's not just a job. We're offering a career."

There was opposition to the ordinance among the city council and from the editorial page of New London Day. Following the vote of the full city council, Mayor Finizio published an opinion piece in the Day rebutting criticisms of the ordinance and restating his support.

"Low bidder rules for construction projects, without the protections that this ordinance provides, favor the success of bids that use lower quality and less trained workers. While a bid awarded may, in today's dollars, be less than a union construction bid, the buildings built are not of the same quality," Finizio wrote.

"A responsible contractor ordinance, combined with appropriate budgeting for routine maintenance, will lower costs to city taxpayers in the long term by building, and maintaining, better quality buildings."
 





Enforcement against cheating businesses jumps in Mass Posted by on

More than $21 million has been collected from employers in Massachusetts who violated labor laws in the last 18 months, according to the annual report of the Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification. The amount represents more than the total that was recovered in all previous years.

The joint task force was created in 2008 as a result efforts by the Carpenters union and others to educate Governor Deval Patrick, state legislators and leaders of several executive branch agencies who enforce laws and policies related to employee misclassification. Tens of millions of dollars in state and federal revenue are lost each year due to employee misclassification while employers who play by the rules are put at a competitive disadvantage and workers are stripped of essential protections such as workers' compensation coverage and eligibility for unemployment insurance, Social Security and Medicare.

The issue is especially acute in the construction industry, where the fairness of direct competitive bidding can easily be undermined by a bidder misclassifying employees as independent contractors to save 20-30% on labor cost. Perhaps the largest recent case involved more than $1.1 million in unreported wages found at the renovation of the Boston Marriot Copley Place, where one contractor was paying $4 an hour to employees who were recruited from a substance abuse program in Connecticut. Contractors were issued more than $100,000 in fines on the project.

"The work of the Task Force is invaluable in reducing the growth of the underground economy in the state's construction industry,” said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. “Taking on the illegal practices of wage theft, misclassification and tax and insurance fraud creates a more level playing field, which ultimately benefits legitimate employers, tradesmen and women and taxpayers."

The joint task force brings together various state agencies, including the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, the Insurance Fraud Bureau and others.

Both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald covered the issue.





Frightening protest in Hartford Posted by on

Legendary horror author Stephen King may be looking for a UPP t-shirt. The Maine native was staying in Hartford this week, walked by a union banner protest in front of the Capital Grill, and stopped to ask about it. NERCC Business Representative Dean Pallotti told King that the Capital Grille was being built by contractors that don't meet area standards and were suspected of misclassifying workers as independent contractors. Darden Restaurants owns the Capital Grille chain as well as others, including Longhorn Steakhouse. The company is in the process of building a Longhorn in Enfeild, where there is also concern about contractors being used who don't meet area standards. King extended his support to the union's efforts, saying it didn't seem right since he pays his fair share of taxes.





Raids flush out more crooked contractors in Connecticut Posted by on

A series of sweeps of construction sites in Connecticut this year has resulted in 27 "Stop Work" orders against contractors for misclassification of workers as "independent contractors." The results continue a disturbing trend in the state's construction industry. In the past year, the Connecticut Department of Labor reports that inspection and review of 108 construction projects and 299 contractors has resulted in 199 "Stop Work" work orders, an alarming rate of cheating.

"Some employers will misclassify workers as independent contractors with the intent of avoiding their obligations under federal and state employment law covering such matters as workers' compensation, unemployment taxes and payroll reporting," said state Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer. "Unfortunately, when an employer fails to pay for the proper coverage for injuries suffered on the job, and a worker gets hurt, the state's taxpayers ultimately foot the bill."

Avoiding tax obligations gives cheating employers a significant advantage in competitive bidding and negotiated pricing within the construction industry and creates a funding gap for state and federal governments, among other problems.

Media coverage here.





Carpenters highlight thefts at Botany Bay Posted by on

NERCC staff recently spoke to a group of five workers employed at the Botany Bay development in Worcester who were owed more than $25,000 in wages and began making noise about it. Regular bannering was done at the site and last week a rally drew members of Local 107, representatives of the MetroWest Worker's Center, religious leaders and Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera.

The event led to pieces in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and Vocero Hispano, which highlighted the wage theft and the unwillingness of the project developer to do anything but turn a blind eye. The bad publicity may force his hand, though, as regular events are gaining attention and the support of the community.
 





Erlich leads discussion on "The Disappearing Middle Class" Posted by on

NERCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich was recently invited to speak at Brooksby Village, a senior living community in Peabody, MA. Erlich was invited to speak to the Brooksby Village Current Events Discussion Group by Phil Mamber, a retired union leader from IUE 201 at the Lynn GE plant. Erlich gave a PowerPoint presentation titled: The Disappearing American Middle Class: Economic Inequality and Labor. Seventy-five residents attended the event, which was very well received. Check out a PDF of the presentation by clicking here.





Contractor: Being union is beneficial to all Posted by on

David Rampone, President of Hart Engineering, a signatory contractor based in Cumberland, Rhode Island isn't shy about being a union contractor. Last year he volunteered to be one of the latest union contractors to do a radio ad on behalf of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. Now, he's published an opinion piece in the Providence Journal explaining why his business is better with a union partnership. Click through to read it.

The following opinion piece appeared in the January 10 print edition of the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

The benefits of employing unionists

DAVID RAMPONE

Regarding Charles Chieppo’s Dec. 20 column, “Unions are 1 percenters in Mass.,” in which he portrayed the construction industry inaccurately:

As the chief executive of a major Rhode lsland construction firm that does work all over New England, I’ll set the record straight. I am the president of Hart Engineering Corp., a general and process mechanical contractor founded over 70 years ago and based in Cumberland.

While I have read several opinion pieces by “public-relations experts” articulating the “evils” of the unionized construction industry, it needs to be pointed out that these experts have no actual experience in the construction industry and draw their conclusions based purely on anecdotal information provided by those who wish to see the unionized construction industry fail.

For the record, the National Labor Relations Act lets construction companies decide for themselves whether to be affiliated with the industry’s trade unions. It is the only industry that has such a provision. Since its inception, our firm has made the business-driven decision to be affiliated with several trade unions — a decision that has been beneficial to both our company and employees.

Currently we employ more than100 union tradesmen and women on dozens of jobs, large and small, throughout New England. These employees receive a fair wage, full health-care benefits and pension contributions — a package that lets them provide their families with a respectable standard of living. And in light of the negative attention cast on public-sector unions in these times, note that unionized construction workers are not guaranteed employment. In fact, Rhode Island unionized construction workers average about 1,500 hours worked a year. They do not receive vacation time, sick days or holiday pay, nor do they receive any benefits if they do not work the required number of hours a year — usually between 1,200 and 1,400, depending on the trade union involved.

Beyond my own company, the performance of Rhode Island’s trade unions and union contractors speaks for itself. There are more than 200 local contractors with union agreements in the Rhode Island area, and there have been more than 50 all-union project labor agreements (PLAs) worth billions of dollars completed in this area, including most of the state’s highest-profile projects. Most of these PLAs have been in the private sector.

These agreements symbolize the marketplace at work. Owners, construction managers and contractors enter into these agreements for one reason only: It is in their best interest to do so. And why? The trade unions in partnership with their contractors invest millions of dollars annually recruiting, training and retraining their workers to provide the safest, most skilled workforce in our industry. In today’s world, owners want their projects completed safely, on time, under budget and to the highest level of quality possible. That is why owners from small firms to Fortune 500 companies enter into project labor agreements.

While there are far fewer PLAs in the public sector than in the private sector, they are becoming more prevalent. However, before any public entity in Rhode Island can implement a PLA, it must complete an independent “objective and reasoned” study that recommends their use.

The trade unions’ record of providing contractors and owners with a safe and productive workforce is unmatched in our industry. Those who oppose them assert that using nonunionized workers would provide the owner with great savings. Unfortunately, those savings are usually the result of substandard wages, failure to provide health-care benefits to employees, or misclassifying employees to pay them a lower wage.

For 70 years we have provided our clients with the safest, most capable and productive work force in the industry, and our employees with a fair wage and benefits for them and their families. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve with our union partners.

David Rampone is president of Hart Engineering Corp., in Cumberland.  





Misclassification crackdown, publicity Posted by on

Misclassification has been a serious problem in the construction industry for years, and something against which the Carpenters union has led the fight locally, regionally and nationally. Union efforts resulted first in greater understanding and awareness among elected officials and now regularly lead to enforcement and publicity on the issue that is either directly a result of union action or an indirect result of efforts initiated by the union.

Two items broke this week that reinforce that point. In Worcester, Telegram and Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane wrote about efforts by NERCC Organizer Manny Gines to chase down employers who cheat by misclassifying workers as independent contractors or cheat them out of their wages.

McFarlane's column ties into an announcement earlier in the week by the Executive Office of Labor in Massachusetts that more they had found more than 2,300 workers misclassified by just three employers. Though the three companies were not involved in the construction industry, the eye-popping $11 million in unreported wages and millions of dollars the state should have received for unemployment insurance payments generated new stories that put the issue in front of the general public.





Marriott management "asleep at the switch" Posted by on

Banker and Tradesman ran a piece this past Sunday about the lack of awareness shown by property owner Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. and Marriot management regarding what was happening on their $18 million renovation project.

Earlier this year, Union carpenters, painters and other union members demonstrated twice a week for months at the site against Baystate Interiors, Inc. of Woburn for undermining area standard for carpenters' wages and benefits.

Investigators for the state task force on the underground economy found that contractor’s working on the renovation project failed to report $1.2 million in wages, which cost the state $86,000 in taxes. Investigators from the state task force on the underground economy also found that 63 employees were misclassified as independent contractors. Read more here. http://www.nercc.org/blog/p/1713

Scott Van Voorhis, the author of the piece notes that “the allegations that recovering drug addicts imported from Philadelphia were paid $4 an hour – half the state’s already measly minimum wage – are sorry enough. But the defense of the hotel’s owners – they just didn’t know what was going on with the contractors – is just as indefensible when it comes to savvy business management in a major metro market.”

Read the Banker and Tradesman piece in its entirety here.





Workers take the hit Posted by on

The Stamford Advocate ran another piece covering the areas standards demonstrations at the Harbor Point apartment complex. Contractors working for Harbor Point developer Building Land Technology (BLT) are working in Connecticut but not hiring Connecticut workers, not paying Connecticut wages and not meeting are safety standards.

The Connecticut Department of Labor's Wages & Workplace Standards Division has issued 34 "Stop Work Orders" to contractors working at Harbor Point over the last two years, continuing a string of bad practices and bad press for the city and the project's developer, BLT.

"It's disheartening to see so many out-of-state workers on the job at Harbor Point because the unemployment rate in the construction industry in Connecticut is twenty percent to thirty percent,"said Tim Sullivan, Local 210 Organizer .

Read the entire article here





Investigators find widespread labor violations at Copley Marriott Posted by on

As a result of the the protests  by union carpenters at the Boston Marriott Copley Place renovation project, state investigators found improper activity by fifteen companies that worked on site.

Contractor’s working on the renovation project failed to report $1.2 million in wages, which cost the state $86,000 in taxes. Investigators from the state task force on the underground economy also found that 63 employees were misclassified as independent contractors.

In the article printed in the Boston Globe, a lawyer representing Baystate Services, the general contractor that oversaw the renovation of the hotel said “it, too, was unaware of labor violations.”

Earlier this year, Baystate agreed to pay $31,000 in back wages to 37 Victory Outreach workers who received illegally low wages for 3 months of work. Read more about Victory Outreach here

Unfortunately, state law protects the privacy of companies accused of tax violations. Even in a case like this, with widespread labor violations, investigators are blocked from state laws from charging contractors and property owners.

Read more about the results of the investigation by the state task force online here.  To view a PDF of the article, click here.





A look behind the scenes: Copley Marriott Boston Posted by on

Remember the protests by union carpenters at the Copley Marriott in Boston? In his article "A story of hope, and a lopsided deal," Boston Globe reporter Casey Ross reports on what was was going on behind the scenes at the hotel that was uncovered as a result of those demonstrations. 

The article looks into Victory Outreach, the Christian drug rehabilitation ministry hired for furniture installation on the job. Twelve laborers working for Victory Outreach worked for three months on the project, making about $4 an hour, half the required minimum wage in Massachuseets. 

Check out the entire article online here or in PDF format here





National talk host digs into Stamford Posted by on

National television talk show host Cenk Uygur this week hosted NERCC Representative Tim Sullivan on his show "The Young Turks" to talk about events at Stamford's Harbor Point development. The two talked about how the project is undermining area standards for carpenters' wages and benefits and how instead of local citizens voting on the project, votes were cast by a single lawyer representing a handful of corporations. That's right, corporations voting, not citizens.

 





Carpenters demonstrating against Callahan Posted by on

A large group of carpenters are demonstrating on Newbury Street in Boston today against Callahan, Inc. The Bridgewater-based contractor is renovating a building that will feature housing and retail space. The company has a history of undermining industry standards for carpenters' wages and benefits. The company has been debarred for making misleading statements to qualify for a project and is embroiled in a controversial project with the South Shore YMCA in Quincy.

The South Shore YMCA recently selected Callahan for a new building project. This despite more than $100,000 worth of labor union carpenters had donated to two previous building projects and recieved a commitment from the Y. The Y was recently blasted for its decision-making and ethics by a series of stories in the Quincy Patriot-Ledger. Local 424 Business Manager followed up with a Letter to the Editor:

"The recent disclosure of questionable ethics on the part of YMCA board members comes as no real surprise to the carpenters union. During the general contractor selection process for the Quincy project, we asked that the process pass reasonable standards of integrity and honesty. Instead, they chose Callahan, Inc., a contractor determined to have lied under oath to qualify to bid on a school project in Hanover , where there were multiple violations of state and federal law.


"In the past few years, members and apprentices of the carpenters union have donated over $100,000 in free labor to the South Shore YMCA for work done at the Germantown Community Center and Camp Burgess . Yet we, often described as overpaid, were denied a legitimate opportunity to work on the new YMCA, while insiders collected over $2 million in fees. The Y’s mission statement reads in part; “To put Christian principles into practice…” I think they forgot."

In Hanover, Callahan was found to have made misleading statements to justify its qualifications to bid on construction of a new High School. The town successfully fought to have put aside opinions by the Attorney General's office and a suit brought by union carpenters in Hanover that the project should be rebid. Though Callahan was awarded the job, they were debarred from bidding public work as a result of their actions and the project was not without further problems.

Two subcontractors working on the Hanover High School project for Callahan, Inc. were cited for violations of wage and hour reporting laws. Action Floors was issued a $2,000 penalty for intentionally failing to submit true and accurate certified payroll while Superior Foundations was found to have intentionally failed to pay proper prevailing wages on the project. Superior has been issued a $2,000 penalty for the violations and order to pay $3,802.94 in restitution to workers who were cheated. Superior was also cited for prevailing wage violations for work they did at the Swansea Police station.





Simon Says...Lie! Posted by on

Members from Local 118 gathered with other Building Trades members in front of the Merrimack Premium Outlets in New Hampshire to protest Simon Property Group’s broken promises and lack of support for union workers.

Simon Property Group is building the $100 million dollar outlet mall, which will be home to more than 100 high end and designer retailers.

Local union members first stepped up to support the project in 2005.

“The developer came to us…and asked for our help getting the project through a complex zoning and planning process that included a city-wide vote that produced the highest voter turn-out in Merrimack’s history,” said Liz Skidmore, NERCC Organizer.

“In exchange for our support and help, they committed to building the entire project union. They reneged on their promise.”

Instead of hiring local, responsible contractors, Simon Property Group hire out-of-state contractors who brought out-of-state workers, a number of whom are illegally misclassified as independent contractors and aren’t covered by workers’ compensation.

Simon management released a statement in response to the demonstration.

“We have cooperated with the unions from the beginning of the project. The project was always planned as a publicly bid open shop.”

Construction workers from about 30 states have been helping to create the new shopping center, including tradesmen from as far away as Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas.

Various building trades members gathered at the mall to bring to light their frustrations from these broken promises, in an effort to drive more local jobs as fit out work continues on site.

The Merrimack Patch ,Nashua Telegraph , and Union Leader covered the rally.

Members were meeting at the site once again this morning and are considering a rally on opening day at the mall, which is scheduled for June 14th.





Carpenters demonstrate against Allstate Posted by on

Carpenters in Norwalk, Connecticut held an area standards demonstration to raise awareness about the practices of Allstate Interiors, based out of New York. The drywall contractor is working at Maplewood at Strawberry Hill. The $17-mllion project is converting a former elementary school into an assisted-living facility for the elderly.

Allstate does not meet area standards for wages and benefits. Workers  have reported making as little as $10-$12 an hour on construction projects. 

The Norwalk Hour covered the rally.





Demonstrations against Sandoval continue Posted by on

Carpenters in Connecticut protested at the New London Plaza Hotel against Sandoval Construction of North Carolina. The area standards picket line highlighted the company’s practice of paying wages and benefits that are lower than the industry standard in the New London area. The company was also issued a Stop Work Order by the Connecticut Department of Labor for not having proper workers’ compensation coverage.

TheDay.com posted a story about the event





Resident raises concerns, reaches out Posted by on

A Stamford Connecticut resident wrote in to the Stamford Patch to voice her concerns about the Harbor Point project being developed by Carl Kuehner's Building and Land Technology (BLT) in a letter posted earlier this week. Carol Ann McClean writes that Dallas-based subcontractor Baker Concrete Construction has brought in a crew of workers from Texas, when there is a pool of local residents looking for work.

“Baker Concrete Construction does not employ skilled, licensed, local Connecticut parents from our state, who live locally and have been out of work for years. Instead, our streets are lined with Texas license plates, and I know these vehicles are not going home to Texas every night...”

She also speaks about workers’ compensation and unemployment violations and details concerns about various violations she sees in reference to the Harbor Point Infrastructure Act.

She writes, “For a corporation like BLT, Harbor Point, who gets these enormous tax breaks for the special tax district, (that would be a whole other lengthy explanation on the amazing deal they are getting) you would think that they would be concerned with following the rules, ordinances, statues etc on every issue as they are required, I have come to find it is the complete opposite.”

The Harbor Point site has been the subject of repeated demonstrations by union carpenters calling attention to the presence of subcontractors on site who do not pay area standard wages and benefits for carpenters on all of their projects.

You can read McClean’s letter in its entirety here





Carpenters demonstrate against Sandoval Posted by on

Carpenters in Connecticut have been protesting at the new London Plaza Hotel (formerly the Radisson Hotel) against Sandoval Construction of North Carolina. The company does not meet area standards for wages and benefits. It was also issued a Stop Work Order by the Connecticut Department of Labor last week for not having proper workers' compensation coverage.

The New London Patch posted a story, photos and video of the event.

 





NERCC calls for harsher penalties for those not buying workers' comp Posted by on

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters and other industry groups are calling on the Massachusetts legislature to make it a felony for employers to fail to purchase workers compensation insurance for their employees. Senate Bill 915, sponsored by Senator Katherine Clark (D-Melrose) and Majority Whip Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) also has the backing of Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Operating without workers' compesnation insurance is currently a misdemeanor, punishable by upt oa year in prison or a find of up to $1,500. The new law would make the felongy punishapble by up to five years in state prison, two-and-a-half years in jail or a fine of up to $10,000.

NERCC Political Director Steve Joyce said that although union carpenters are always covered by workers' compensation insurance, they are still hurt by those who cheat.

"In an industry where work most often goes to whoever submits the lowest price, any contractor who does not purchase workers' compensation coverage has a competitive advantage right from the start over contractors who follow the law and have coverage," he said. "That negatively impacts any carpenter that works for a legitmate contractor. We're not looking to hurt all employers, we value the role they play in creating jobs. We just want everyone to comply with the law when they do it."

Even the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), a group that lobbies for businesses, support the bill. In a story by the State House News Service, John Regan, AIM's Executive Vice President described the current situation as unfair to too many.

"Their faliure to have that insurance in place means that if workers working for them get injured, the rest of the employer commnity pays the bill" and that making failure to have coverage a felony "reflects the seriousness of the issue, and conveys how important it is that coverage be in place."

According to the SHNS story, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents has reported more than 1,000 cses costing the worekrs compensation fund $26 million in the last five years becuase their employer didn't have worers' compensation coverage. In recent years the department has routinely issued Stop Work Orders against more than 3,000 employer found to be operating without workers' compensation coverage.





Stamford developer still in hot water Posted by on

Despite trying to pack the hall with its own supporters, a Stamford developer still faced a tough room last night in a Zoning Board meeting to discuss its future plans and ongoing zoning violations (also here) at their Harbor Point project. Building and Land Technology (BLT) has come under fire for its choice of subcontractors, labor violations on its projects and contributing to industry-wide issues targeted by enforcement agencies.

The seriousness of the issues at Harbor Point is compounded by the seeming lack of interest and/or ability of Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia.





Carpenters to support unpaid workers in Durham Posted by on

Union carpenters will join with church, student and community groups to hold a news conference today at 3pm at the Community Church of Durham (NH) at 17 Main Street to release information about serious violations of state and federal law--including non-payment of wages--at the "Cottages of Durham." The "Cottages of Durham" is a new student housing development for students of the University of New Hampshire. It is being developed by Capstone Development/The Cottages of Durham.

Please read this and consider visiting the Cottages of Durham Facebook page and politely ask them to do right by these workers.

Construction workers at the Cottages of Durham describe multiple and flagrant violations of state and federal labor law.

These workers say that they worked long hours for many weeks without pay. When they complained about nonpayment of their wages, they were terminated and evicted from their housing.

Union carpenters stand in solidarity with these exploited workers and demand that Cottages of Durham/Capstone Development promptly pay these workers what they are owed in wages and overtime.





Area Standards Demonstration: Baystate/Marriott Posted by on

Carpenters in Boston will be holding an area standards demonstration on Saturday, February 4 from 11am-1pm against Baystate Services, Inc. The demonstration will take place at the Marriott Copley Place on Huntington Avenue.

More information about Baystate and Marriott Copley Place.





Area Standards Demonstration: Continental Contractors/Radisson Posted by on

Carpenters in Boston will be holding an area standards demonstration on Thursday, February 1 from 11a-1p against Continental Construction. The company, which has been hired for renovation work at the Radisson Hotel does not meet area standards for carpenters' wages and benefits on all of its projects. The demonstration will take place at the Boston Radisson, located at 200 Stuart Street.





Area Standards Demonstration: Baystate/Marriott Posted by on

Carpenters in Boston will be holding an area standards demonstration on Tuesday, January 31 from 3-5pm against Baystate Services, Inc. The demonstration will take place at the Marriott Copley Place on Huntington Avenue.

More information about Baystate and Marriott Copley Place.





Area Standards demo: Baker Concrete Posted by on

Connecticut Carpenters will be holding an area standards demonstration against BAKER CONCRETE on Thursday, February 2nd from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Commons Park on Crosby Street across from 201 Park Place in Stamford.

More on Baker Concrete demonstrations.
 





Area Standards demo--Allstate Interiors Posted by on

Carpenters in Connecticut will be holding and Area Standards demonstration against ALLSTATE INTERIORS on Tuesday, January 31st, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Storrs Road Route 195 (Corner of Dog Lane) Storrs Center, Mansfield.





Carpenters demonstrating against Baker Concrete Posted by on

Union Carpenters in southwestern Connecticut held an area standards demonstration yesterday at Commons Park on Crosby Street in Stamford to bring attention the business practices of Baker Concrete. The Ohio-based company does not meet area standards for wages and benefits for carpenters on all of their projects.

Baker is currently performing concrete work as part of the massive development at Harbor Point. The owner and development of the project is Building and Land Technology (BLT). Baker Concrete is the latest in a string of questionable subcontractors used on BLT developments. Subcontractors on BLT projects have been the subject of at least eight "Stop Work Orders" for misclassifying workers and other violations. One subcontractor, Heritage Drywall, was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in owed wages and penalties on a BLT project.

Ted Duarte, a Representative of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters said trades workers and community members will be demonstrating because Baker Concrete's attempts to undermine area standards is not only bad for the area construction industry but the regional economy.

“Most workers on this project are from out of state and that’s obviously not a good thing for area residents," he said. "It's taking jobs from local people, taking money out of the local economy and undermining standards for local workers in the future."

The demonstration was covered by local media, including the Stamford Advocate and video of Duarte commenting at the site of the demonstration were posted on YouTube (see below)





State investigating use of shelter workers at Boston Marriott Posted by on

A prominent article in the Boston Globe today revealed that state investigators are looking into the use and treatment of out-of-state shelter workers in the renovation of rooms at the Boston Copley Marriott. Union carpenters, painters and other union members have been demonstrating twice a week for months at the site against Baystate Interiors, Inc. of Woburn for undermining area standard for carpenters' wages and benefits.

Baystate is renovating several floors of rooms at the pricey downtown hotel owned by Host Hotels and using a California-based company named Installations Plus. Installations is using workers from a missionary shelter in Philadelphia to do work at the Marriott and allegedly violating wage and hour laws to do it.

The workers come from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation shelter in Philadelphia run by Victory Outreach International, an evangelical group based in the San Diego area.

“Our concern is that Host Hotels is trying to take advantage of the recession by bringing in out-of-state laborers to do work that has traditionally been done by local union tradespeople,’’ said Mark Erlich, president of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

The investigation is not the first trouble enforcement authorities have found on the site. The subcontractors working on the project--including Installations Plus--have been issued "Stop Work Orders" and paid fines for not having proper workers' compensation insurance.

Click here to view a NERCC-produced video about the demonstrations at the Boston Copley Marriott.





Carpenters demonstrating against Baker Concrete Posted by on

Union Carpenters in southwestern Connecticut were demonstrating today at Commons Park on Crosby Street in Stamford to bring attention the business practices of Baker Concrete. The Ohio-based company does not meet area standards for wages and benefits for carpenters on all of their projects.

Baker is currently performing concrete work as part of the massive development at Harbor Point. The owner and development of the project is Building and Land Technology (BLT). Baker Concrete is the latest in a string of questionable subcontractors used on BLT developments. Subcontractors on BLT projects have been the subject of at least eight "Stop Work Orders" for misclassifying workers and other violations. One subcontractor, Heritage Drywall, was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in owed wages and penalties on a BLT project.

Ted Duarte, a Representative of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters said trades workers and community members will be demonstrating because Baker Concrete's attempts to undermine area standards is not only bad for the area construction industry but the regional economy.
“Most workers on this project are from out of state and that’s obviously not a good thing for area residents," he said. "It's taking jobs from local people, taking money out of the local economy and undermining standards for local workers in the future."
 





Pulte subs ordered to pay more than $500k Posted by on

Multiple enforcement agencies in Massachusetts today announced that five subcontractors employed by Pulte on sites in Eastern Massachusetts have been ordered to pay workers more than $400,000 in owed wages and make payments totaling $141,000 to cover unpaid taxes.

The order is the result of investigations that began after workers complained to Representatives of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters that they had been unpaid for extended periods of time. Workers went on strike at several Pulte locations and filed complaints with the state.

"The investigation fined five separate subcontractors, but the real culprit is Pulte Homes, a multi-billion dollar national homebuilder," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. "Those subs are interchangeable and were just doing Pulte's bidding. Cheating is Pulte's business model and, unfortunately, that approach is far too common in the residential construction industry."

Subcontractors that were part of the order include:
--AM Construction Services and its President, Adimar Demoura, age 32 of Framingham, allegedly failed to pay four workers a total of $15,331.50 for framing work done on private residential projects in Braintree and Plymouth. They were also fined $22,500 in penalties.
--Five Stars Construction and its President, Alexandre Miranda, age 40 of Trumbull, Connecticut, allegedly failed to pay two workers a total of $30,700 for framing work done on a private condominium project in Natick. They were also fined $30,000 in penalties.
--Nunes Brothers Construction and its President, Tiago Aguiar M. Nunes, age 28 of Brooklyn, New York, allegedly failed to pay 23 workers a total of $99,086.75 for framing work done on private condominium and single-family homes projects in Braintree, Plymouth, Natick, and Northbridge. They were also fined $112,500 in penalties.
--Seven Seas Group and its President, Jackson Croscup, age 55 of Fall River, allegedly failed to pay five workers a total of $10,333 for framing work done on a private condominium project in Natick. They were also fined $20,075 in penalties.
--Two Brothers Construction and its President, Wellington DeLima Borges, age 41 of East Natick, allegedly failed to pay six workers a total of $34,751.50 for framing work done on a private home development project in Plymouth. They were also fined $34,500 in penalties.

Investigating the complaints were Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office (AGO), the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD), and the Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification (JTF). The JTF was established by Governor Deval Patrick through Executive Order #499 in March 2008 to coordinate multiple state agencies’ efforts to stamp out fraudulent employment activities by enforcing the state’s labor, licensing, and tax laws.

“All workers in the Commonwealth deserve to be paid for the wages they have earned, including their overtime,” said Attorney General Coakley. “We will continue to work together and take appropriate action to stop these unlawful business practices, level the playing field for companies and protect workers.”

“The Commonwealth is committed to insuring that all businesses carry both workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance coverage,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein. “We will not tolerate employers or developers who proceed without this coverage, which puts employees at risk and employers who play by the rules at a competitive disadvantage. The Joint Task Force will continue to take all necessary action to protect legitimate employers, employees and the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.”





MA Attorney General bid protest decision Posted by on

Union carpenters turned out for a selectman’s meeting in Ware, MA in opposition of the town’s decision to move forward with the hiring of PDS Engineering & Construction, Inc.. The Town of Ware accepted the bid of PDS for the general contract for its Fire Department, despite the omission of information in bid documents.

The New England Carpenters Labor Management Program filed the bid protest arguing that PDS made material omissions of four lawsuits from its Update Statement. The Update Statement covers matters between the contractor's last DCAM application for certification and the date of the bid. Bidders are instructed that they "must report all requested information not previously reported on that [most recent] application for Prime/General Certificate of Eligibility."

The AG’s office found that that PDS should have disclosed an ongoing personal injury lawsuit on its Update Statement. Normally such a decision would have required automatic rejection of PDS. However, based on the Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Fordyce v. Hanover, 457 Mass. 248 (2010), this finding the AG’s office determined that the Town of Ware has the discretion to accept the bid of PDS, despite the omission of information in their original bid.

From masslive.com:

Ware- A Springfield carpenters’ union opposes the town’s decision to award the general contract for a new fire station to PDS Engineering & Construction Inc., the lowest bidder, because the Connecticut company did not reveal in bid documents that it was involved in seven lawsuits.

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters Local 108 filed a bid protest with the state Attorney General’s office, which issued a report saying PDS notified the town of three ongoing suits but failed to mention four others, including one from a woman who claims she was injured by an improperly installed precast wheel stop.

Read the full story here


 





Troubling state of affairs in Stamford Posted by on

John Cunningham, Business Manager for Carpenters Local 210, has written an opinion piece, published in the Stamford Advocate today highlighting some very dangerous trends in the area's construction industry. A young trades worker was killed when he was blown off a roof in a very preventable accident. He and his brothers were owed more than $6,000 in wages, according to reports. Stop Work Orders issued against contractors who don't carry workers' compensation insurance for their crews or who misclassify workers to avoid payroll taxes and their share of other "safety net" programs are becoming more and more common. Major projects being done by major developers are involved.


The last few months should serve as something of a wake-up call for everyone from workers to elected officials and everyone in between. It is especially necessary that general contractors, construction managers and developers begin to pay more attention to what is actually happening on their sites.


Union carpenters have also begun to make more noise in the streets, demonstrating and asking people to pay a more attention to these very serious issues. The industry needs basic standards for how work is done and how workers are treated. Contractors who only focus on getting jobs, investors interested in only profits and elected officials interested in only ribbon cuttings and job creation statistics can not be relied on to follow through. Union carpenters intend to lead the fight.





Carpenters continue mass demonstrations at Marriott Copley Posted by on

December 16, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mark Erlich

Carpenters continue mass demonstrations at Marriott Copley
Members of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Painters District Council #35 and other Boston Building Trades unions will be demonstrating at the Marriott Copley Place this Saturday, December 17 from 11am-1pm to call attention to substandard conditions for construction workers renovating 1100 hotel rooms. Demonstrations featuring as many as 200 members have been held two to three times a week for the last month and will continue indefinitely.
 

Host Hotels, the owner of the downtown hotel, hired Baystate Services, Inc as a general contractor. Baystate and its subcontractors pay substandard wages, and minimal or no benefits. In addition, many of the subcontractors illegally misclassify their employees as "independent contractors", a violation of state and federal tax and insurance laws. Three subcontractors on the site, RB Wallcovering, of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Jayson Connor, a Marshfield, MA flooring contractor and Installation Plus, a Corona, CA contractor were issued Stop Work Orders (attached) by the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents within the last five weeks for failure to properly cover employees with workers’ compensation insurance.
 

“Host Hotels is part of an unfortunate trend to drive standards down and jeopardize middle-class careers in construction," says Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. "Host is taking advantage of the recession to bring in low-waged out-of-state workers and hiring contractors that participate in the growing underground economy.”
 

“If guests used the same logic as Host Hotels—that price was the only issue for making a decision—would any of them stay at the Copley Marriott?" asks Jeffrey Sullivan, Business Manager of Painters District Council 35. "Guests pay up to $400 a night while these trades workers make as little as $12 an hour. With room occupancy in Boston back to pre-recession levels, Host has no excuse for these kinds of choices."
 

Video of past demonstrations can be viewed in the nercc.org video gallery under the “Workers Rights” heading. 





Union demonstrations at Boston Copley Marriott to continue Posted by on

Union carpenters joined by union painters, electricians and members of UNITE/HERE (hotel workers) will continue to demonstrate against the undermining of area standards at the Boston Copley Marriott hotel. Bay State Interiors has been hired to renovate rooms and does not pay carpenters area standard wages and benefits on all of its projects. More than 200 workers turned out at a demonstration last week and another 100 attended a demonstration Tuesday. Demonstrations will be scheduled regularly each week, including this Wednesday from 3:00-5 p.m. and Saturday December 17, 2011, 11:00am-1:00pm.





IRS, US DOL to cooperate with state enforcement on misclassification Posted by on

The United States Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service yesterday signed Memorandums of Understanding with seven states to increase compliance with laws governing how workers should be classified and paid. Massachusetts and Connecticut were among the states participating. The efforts will focus on both education of employees and increased efficiency of enforcement through information-sharing between state and federal agencies, according to a DOL press release.

Wage theft and the misclassification of workers at so-called independent contractors has been a growing problem in the construction industry and others. Employers use the tactic to avoid proper payment of payroll taxes, unemployment and workers' compensation insurance. The practice is particularly troubling in the construction industry, where companies that play by the rules are put at a significant advantage during competitive bidding.

The effort expands the model used in numerous states, including five of the six New England states, where multiple agencies work together on a task force to ensure violations of some laws aren't allowed to pass because they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the agency that happens to be investigating.

News coverage
Associated Press
Bloomberg

Resources on the issue of misclassification and wage theft:
Wage theft stories on NERCCBlog.
1099 and Misclassification stories on NERCCBlog.
National comprehensive resource page.





Cape Cod Times reports on Carpenter demonstration Posted by on

The Cape Cod Times posted this article about carpenters demonstrating yesterday, including quotes from NERCC Representative Brian Richardson. The target of the demonstration was Advantage Construction, which is undermining the standard for carpenters' wages and benefits while building at Balise Ford in Hyannis. The project is one of several where carpenters have demonstrated in the last few weeks about Advantage Construction.

"We know what they're getting paid and it's significantly less than area standard," said Brian Richardson, a protest participant and the director of organizing for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.
Related Stories

In Wednesday's demonstration, about 40 carpenters chanted, waved signs and blew whistles in front of the new Balise Ford location on High School Road, where the dealership is being renovated. Last Friday, about 50 protesters marched outside the recently constructed showroom at Hyannis Toyota on Route 132.

Balise Ford manager Mark Caliri declined to comment on the protest, saying that the issue is between the union and the construction company.

The target of the demonstrations has been Quincy-based Advantage Construction, the construction management company overseeing the work at the two dealerships. Advantage Construction pays workers $20 to $25 per hour, Richardson said ?? far less than the $50 that he said is the standard hourly rate on Cape Cod.

Read the full story here.





NERCC demonstrating against Advantage Construction in Hyannis Posted by on

Union carpenters yesterday demonstrated in Hyannis where Advantage Construction is undermining area standards for carpenters' wages and benefits while building for Belise Ford.





More on Mayo Posted by on

The Mayo Group and owner John McGrail came under public scrutiny again in downtown Worcester when a group of nonunion carpenters set up a strike line outside the Bancroft Commons property at the end of last week and continued it earlier this week. Today, the carpenters demonstrated in front of Mayo's corporate headquarters in Dorchester.

The carpenters are owed $55,000 for work they did on the project for Ramirez Drywall. The subcontractor has not been paid for the work and so he has been unable to pay the workers.

Ramirez and the carpenters contacted NERCC Organizer Manny Gines for assistance, after seeing that the union had helped other workers receive owed wages recently.

Bancroft Commons is a major residential renovation project covering several blocks downtown, bordering Worcester Common and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. The project has been the site of consistent problems.

Late in 2007, NERCC Organizers talked to nonunion carpenters on the site who were having issues with the way they were being paid. One carpenter told a reporter from the Worcester Telegram that "sometimes" taxes were taken out of his check. The story was given prominent coverage in the paper and Mayo began its strategy of portraying the union as the boogeyman to explain away issues on the job.

Several months later Clive McFarlane, a columnist for the Worcester Telegram, wrote a second piece in the paper, detailing allegations by more nonunion immigrant carpenters employed on the Bancroft Commons project. This time the story got worse. Three of them told McFarlane that they had not been paid wages owed for work they did for Mayo. They were each owed more than $1,700 and had filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office.

Things got worse in January of 2009, when the Mayo Group were indicted by a Worcester Grand Jury for improper handling and disposal of asbestos removed from the property. Investigators alleged that the company:
--failed to conduct a survey to determine whether asbestos was in the building
--threw demolition debris, which turned out to include asbestos, out of second story windows into an open dumpster
--scheduled asbestos to be disposed of at a landfill not approved for asbestos
--did not notify state authorities, as required by law, of asbestos demolition.
--ignored a stop work order from the state and continued to remove asbestos from areas of the building where residents were living.

McGrail and one of the Mayo Group Companies, JMRealty eventually pleaded guilty to several of the counts related to improper handling of asbestos, evasion of unemployment insurance, failure to provide pay records, and failure to withhold income tax. McGrail narrowly escaped jail time. He and JMRealty were fined $100,000 each and sentenced to three years of probation.

After the strike line was established last week in Worcester, representatives of the Mayo Group spoke to Ramirez and the carpenters, but did not pay them. When contacted by the Telegram and Worcester Magazine, Mayo suddenly claimed there were quality issues with the work produced and the issue was the result of the Carpenters union trying to exploit the situation.





More carpenters strike for owed wages Posted by on

A group of nonunion carpenters went on strike at two projects yesterday, seeking close to $100,000 in wages owed to them. The carpenters approached the union for help after their employer--New Haven Drywall--refused to pay them and bounced checks for their drywall and taping work.

Carpenters first demonstrated yesterday morning outside of Cohasset AvalonBay, a project that has been slowed for years by permitting and economic reasons. Construction finally began last year and the company hopes it will open early this summer, according to media reports.




After securing more than $17,000 owed to 11 of the carpenters on the Cohasset site, the group traveled to Norwood, where they planned to demonstrate seeking close to $80,000 15 workers claim to be owed there. New Haven Drywall was also the subcontractor there, hired by developer Chestnut Hill Realty, which is acting as the general contractor, developer and owner.

The strike continued there today.


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