Equipped with bullhorns and giant inflatable rats, 16 members of the union walked along the perimeter of the fence, chanting slogans and calling for equitable wages.
"Without the employees, the employers can't make the money they are taking home," called out Union Representative Walter Murcia. "Come on, Ciarra, do the right thing. No peace for Ciarra Construction until they do the right thing."
Union Spokesman Paul Cohen said the issue is not that Ciarra and the primary contractor are non-union shops but that they pay lower wages, undercutting union carpenters. "We have an issue with them paying below established wages for carpenters in the area," he said.
Local 405 represents around 3,500 workers, primarily in the South Bay. Cohen said undercutting wages creates difficulties for those union carpenters who live and work locally.
"When someone comes in and tries to profit at the expense of the workers it makes it that much tougher," he stated.
Ciarra Construction President Walt Oxley said the picket is something he sees periodically at his job sites.
"They'll picket us at random sites," said Oxley. "Usually in times like this where the economy gets a little slow they start picketing us more."
Oxley did not give specifics on the pay he offers his employees but he did say he feels they are not underpaying.
"We offer very competitive wages, health benefits and a 401k. We're very good to our employees." He added, "The union's been trying to organize for 23 years and not been successful. I think that says something about how we treat our employees."
Cohen said this is not about the union attempting to organize the employees of Ciarra Construction, which is located in San Jose. "It's that they're paying what we feel is a ridiculously low wage," he said.
Ciarra Construction has been working on improvements for the new Fresh & Easy store for the past three weeks. Oxley said he expects the work to last another three to four weeks. The informational picket at the site is not uncommon, he said, and he has seen others at job sites all throughout the area.