Carpenters union pickets Union over college’s choice of contractor

Thursday, June 6, 2013
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— A short-lived picket at Union College on Wednesday was in response to a hiring dispute between the school and the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters.

According to union representative Kevin Smith, the college’s choice to preform the renovation of its Wicker Wellness Center — Wainschaf Associates Inc. — is known to pay less than the area standard of wages.

So the council decided to place its sign and protest outside the gates of the college as a part of an ongoing areawide campaign against contractors that undermine the standard of pay.

Smith said the council has had talks with the college throughout the years about its hiring decisions, with varying successes for the union.

“Sometimes [the school] utilizes our suggestions, other times they don’t.,” he said. “When they choose not to, we like to raise public awareness and hold the school accountable.”

Phillip Wajda, Union College’s director of media and public relations, said Wainschaf was the low bidder on the project and, to the college’s knowledge, does not underpay its staff.

“It’s been our experience that a common comment by the union organizations whenever an open shop contractor is working on campus is that they underpay their staff,” he said.

Wajda also said the college has no say in the selection of subcontractors and that the union is encouraged to participate in the bidding process.

Josh Wainman, general manager of Wainschaf, said his company was contacted by the college about the protest but had no knowledge otherwise. He said his company does pay its employees the area’s prevailing wages.

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