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WA Iron Workers File NLRB Grievances Claiming Discrimination, Wage-Dodging by Out-of-Staters

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Washington state iron worker unions have banded together to file grievances with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against two out-of-town contractors on what has been billed “the largest public refrigerated warehouse in North America.”  According to their grievances, Indianapolis-based Victory Unlimited Construction and California-based Nehemiah Rebar Services have failed to pay their employees the local prevailing wage.  The grievances also suggest that the contractors failed to provide proper breaks, intimidated and harassed their employees, and refused to hire union applicants.  

The labor practice grievances were filed with the NLRB by the Iron Workers Local 14 in Kennewick.  The Local 14 was assisted by the Pacific Northwest District Council of Iron Workers in Edmonds and the Iron Workers Local 847 of Phoenix.

Upon completion, the Preferred Freezer Services storage facility should cover over 455,000 square feet and tower ten stories high.  The project has an estimated price tag of $69.1 million and should be completed by July of 2015.  

Local 14 wants to ensure the area’s prevailing wage is respected. The declarations of two construction workers in the grievance show that the workers are earning between $12 and $14 an hour.    The prevailing wage for journeyman iron workers in Benton County, including pension and benefits, is $54.68.  On salary alone the prevailing wage would still pay workers nearly $30 an hour, more than double what workers are currently being paid.  

One declaration claimed discrimination, suggesting Latino workers are earning less than their counterparts.  BC Smith, president of the Central Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, argued that these workers can be easily exploited due to the language barrier.

“They’re taking advantage of people who aren’t educated on these matters.” Smith told the Tri-City Herald.

The NLRB is investigating the complaints, but action has yet to be taken.


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