Members of a carpenters union, Local 713, protested outside Flynn, Craig and Grant Architects on Hartz Avenue on Thursday afternoon, publicly denouncing the firm for working with a developer who allegedly doesn't use standard wage and education practices. The firm's CEO said the union's protest is misdirected.
"They're a little uninformed, we don't have control over who developers use as a contractor or if owners work with unions or non-unions," said Cedric Craig, CEO of Flynn, Craig and Grant (FCGA).
The architects won a bid to design Paragon Outlets, a 42-acre outlet mall on El Charro Road in Livermore, that is expected to open in the fall of 2013. The outlets would house 134 stores and include 2,400 parking spaces, though literature supplied by Local 713 chides FCGA for not creating "strength in all areas of project development."
While protesters stationed at 301 Hartz Ave. could not comment and union representatives did not return calls to the Express, a carpenter named Peter pointed to a flier that was critical of Paragon Outlets, which is also the name of the site owners, business practices.
"Paragon Outlets...fails to require SD Deacon to use subcontractors that pay the area standard wages and benefits on all of their projects and to provide continuing education and training," the flyer said.
While Baltimore-based Paragon Outlets did not return calls for comment, SD Deacon's vice president, Paul Cunha, said his company pays fair wages and has appropriate training and education opportunities for apprentices.
"I think (bannering) is kind of foolish. To do that in front of the architect is what I think is misguided judgment," he said. "It is the union's feeling that we don't pay area standard wages, but we do. Even in this depressed construction market you have to pay area standard wages and benefits or you can't keep anyone worthwhile on your payroll."
SD Deacon an "open shop," meaning the general contractors employs both union and non-union workers. Cunha did not have information on who won the subcontractor bid or specifics on wages and said such protests are scare tactics used by union members.
"As a company we are not anti-union. Most of our projects have a significant presence with unionized trades. We are anti union-only and we don't believe that these tactics, putting up a banner like that in bad taste, accomplishes anything," he said.
Still, several people honked their car horns in support as they drove by the protest site on Thursday afternoon.
"Their picketing is a little misplaced, it should be at the job site at Paragon," Craig said, adding that his firm is pro-union but has no control over such labor disputes. "We're in a very tough time and there isn't a lot of work so I can understand...people wanting to make a living."
Construction on Paragon Outlets is slated to begin sometime next week, said Cunha.