By TIM ROWDEN
Laborers Local 397 and Operating Engineers Local 520 have a joint picket up against Precise Construction, a non-union subcontractor paying below area standard wages, that is in the process of clearing property and pouring concrete pads for a tractor trailer storage lot in the 1000 block of Chain of Rocks Rd. in Pontoon Beach, IL.
Laborers 397 Business Manager Bill Traylor said the picket isn’t just about paying substandard wages and benefits, it’s about hiring local people for local work.
“We talked to them about putting some people to work from the local community, and minority and female participation,” Traylor said. “They’re not hearing it.
“It’s not just about union or non-union,” he said. It’s about putting local people to work, bringing people from out of state or elsewhere in the state instead of putting local people to work.”
Cissell Mueller Construction is the general contractor on the project and originally used union subcontractors for site prep, storm sewers and electrical work on the project.
“They started off okay, and then they went south,” Traylor said. “I don’t understand why they didn’t want to use local people to do the forms and concrete. Why couldn’t you use a local concrete contractor?”
Donnie Ferrari, vice-president and business agent for Operating Engineers Local 520, is equally frustrated.
“There’s two to three weeks’ worth of work here,” Ferrari said. “We just want to make sure our local people, the guys who live in this area and pay taxes in this area are put to work.”
Locals 397 and 520 started picketing the project on Sept. 3. The next day, the developer established a dual-gate system, a classic union-busting employer’s move to force picketers away from the main entrance of a project.
While that has allowed the project to continue, the picket is gaining public sympathy.
The drivers of nearly every car and truck that drove by the project last week honked their horns in support of the Laborers and Operating Engineers on the picket line.