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Union protest the lack of members hired for Scranton project

09.18.12

SEPTEMBER 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Union protest the lack of members hired for Scranton project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 29th- Mostly nonunion construction workers have been hired for a major redevelopment project in downtown Scranton and members of the Painters and Allied Trades International Union (PATIU) District Council 21 have staged protest against their members not getting the work.

The more than $10 million project involves converting the former Scranton Chamber of Commerce Building and offices of the lawfirm of O’Malley and Langan into a residential and commercial complex at the Mulberry Street location. The building will include 36 apartments and retail space.

Bob Griffiths, Business Representative of PATIU District Council 21, stated a signatory contractor with the union was not hired for the project and he believes the workers that were hired are not being paid the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage despite the state providing $3.5 million to the project.

The informational picket-line, which has included a huge inflatable rat, was staged by PATIU but several other members of the area building trade unions are also not working on the project.

According to Michael Tigue, Business Agent of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipeftters Union Local 524, a signatory contractor of his union also was not hired for the project.

Nonunion carpenters have been hired for the project as well. Drew Simpson, Representative of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 645 stated his members were not hired for the project and they did not participate in the picketing because legal counsel advised them not to when the inflatable rat is involved.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81 are working on the project and for several days would not enter the building because of the picketing of the PATIU members. The project for two days was suspended when the IBEW members would not cross the picket line, shutting down the project.

Charles Jefferson, a player in the group that acquired the building, told a reporter of the Scranton Times daily newspaper that the protest of the lack of PATIU members not working on the project was “premature” because the painting contract was not yet awarded and their members may yet be hired for the painting.

However, according to John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of District Council 21, Mr. Jefferson won’t even return phone calls from the union to discuss the project construction. “It’s not likely our members will get any work of the project. The guy won’t even return our calls,” stated Mr. Gatto.

PATIU represents drywallers, painters and glassworkers within the construction industry.

“We plan to picket the jobsite off and on until hopefully we get some guys on the project,” stated Mr. Griffiths.

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