UPDATE: Carpenters union protests wages, education at architectural firm


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.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

Ask what these union guys make with all of the pay and benefits.

We are doing a job elsewhere where the union wages are $130K/carpenter!!! This is without any overhead or profit figured in (just the money paid to the union).

If you doubt this, call the local union and ask for their rate sheet. Figure out the hourly wage, vacation pay, education pay, unemployment pay, etc., etc., and you will see how overpriced these guys are.

You could cut 1/3 - 1/2 off of every government construction project if you went non-union. Something to think about when every municipality is underwater. And, the workers would still make a decent wage....

Like this comment
Posted by Terri
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Perhaps Carpenters Union, Local 713 should demonstrate at the offices of the developer rather than the architect? Manipulations like this do indeed appear "misdirected."

Like this comment
Posted by Non Union Contractor
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Amen sister and brothers! As a proud non union contractor in the tri valley area and competing in the union type of projects I will tell you we are forced to pay the same wages that all union scaled work is being paid by the union shops..( is the law called the Davis Bacon act passed by and forced by the unions)that is if the project is funded with state or federal know tax payer dollars which keeps the union shops able to bid on such projects and perhaps actually be the low bidder and do the job. All workers are paid the same pay rate baised on their years in the trade and training hours etc... If the job is a private porject such as the one we are speaking know a regular company wants to built lets say a house or small store or whatever, of course costs are the biggest concern so you put the job out to bid for ALL to bid and get the best price. All union and non union can bid on the project but(the big but) is the unions must pay thier workers the union scales they themselves have implemented but the private shops such as mine are allowed to pay the going rate for a skilled worker doing that private type of job. Of course you will have different rates of pay on each employee based on what they are doing you know Foremen, laborer or apprintice as in any thyp of company you are paid for your knowledge and ability to work! So long story short the bids are most always less saving the contractor and developers thousands to built the projects. This is the same as the Paragon Outlets.Could you imagine if this was the way the schools and city projects were built? They could save thousands in fact they would be able to built extra projects on the same bonds if they would use the theory of not requirring the projects to be under the Davis Bacon Act. Several citys are doing this by bypassing the unions stronghold and creating a "charter city" which allows them to bypass any unionized requirments saving thousand of dollars on projects allowing them to have funds for other projects city wide. Palo Alto and Daley City both have implemented this act. I wonder why?? For more informatin look into the mess in San Diego School Districts the unions have caused over costs on the schook bonds down there. More info can be found at Associated Builders and Contractors website check it out for your self and see the waste of our tax payer dollars for unionized projects.

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