Construction workers took to the streets of San Jose late last month to voice their displeasure with Cupertino-based developer KT Urban. Their complaints do not begin and end with KT, however. Union members are frustrated with a growing shift in Silicon Valley toward hiring non-union workers on development projects:
Workers say it’s part of a trend — hiring workers from the Central Valley and in some cases out of state — workers who will accept less than half of what San Jose-based union workers are paid.
“The non-union is just taking over,” said Electrician Robert Gil. “If you’re trying to help build the middle class, give us a fair shake. Let us at least bid on this work.”
Several hundred construction workers came out to protest, marching toward a KT luxury condominium project currently under construction, according to CBS’ local affiliate:
The workers…told KT Urban they want more promises that local unions will be used for downtown San Jose high rises. In addition to the demands, workers marched through downtown San Jose and demonstrated at KT Urban’s latest high-rise project.
Union members have made no bones about what they believe is motivating developers, and began speaking out at public meetings ahead of the rally:
“I could barely afford to live here,” said Joel Vrana, 44, a longtime sheet metal worker. “And you have a developer who’s not worried about the workers and what they’re making.”
This message was reiterated at the rally. It’s cut and dry, in the workers’ opinion:
Ben Fields with the South Bay Labor Council said, “It’s greed. It’s pure and simple greed. They can afford to share the wealth. They ought to be paying decent wages and benefits and they’re not doing it.”
[…] “They’re doing everything for cut-rate prices,” Gil said. “They’re cutting our throats. It’s not right.”
KT Urban has remained silent on the issue.