‘Shame on City College,” union protesters say

Donna P. Crilly
City Times

Protesters are blaming San Diego City College for a “desecration of the American way of life.”

Carpenter’s Local 1506 labor union calls EF Brady/San Diego a “rat” contractor and is holding a banner in front of campus as a protest against Brady Co. and City College for hiring them.

A “rat” is a non-union contractor that doesn’t provide benefits, pensions and prevailing wages to all employees on all jobs, according to Randy Thornhill, business representative for Carpenter’s Local 1506.

He claims that they have an “unfair competitive advantage.”

“The union blames City College for hiring Brady Co. based on state law mandating the “lowest responsible bidder” on public works jobs while ignoring the pay of workers on private jobs.

Full-family benefits, pensions and certified training programs are available to workers no matter whether it is a private or a public job, claims Brady.

The “Shame on San Diego City College” sign-holding started in February when Brady began work on the Career Tech Center, but the dispute began more than nine years ago, according to Scott Brady, president/owner of EF Brady Co.

“We lose several jobs every year because of them,” said Brady. “Luckily, I have high-performance, high-quality contractors who do about 200 jobs a year. The union makes me lose about five.”

The protest won’t affect the construction of the building, according to David Umstot, vice-chancellor of facilities management for the San Diego Community College District.

Umstot assures that a “very good” labor compliance program checks to make sure every worker is paid the right wage on labor respected by state law.

An anonymous former steel-stud framer for Brady, who now works for Carpenter’s Local 1506 claims that in the five years he worked for Brady, he should have earned roughly about $10,000 pension but only received about $5,000. He also didn’t receive vacation pay and overtime and worked more than 2,000 hours per year.

“I know a lot of guys that used to work for Brady,” the anonymous framer said. “A lot of these guys won’t say nothing. We all gotta feed our families,” indicating that other former employees of Brady, with whom he now works side by side in the union, won’t comment to ensure that they have jobs with Brady if they get desperate for work.

“Brady’s cutting wages to get work,” he said. “Shame on people who are willing to let employees suffer to save a little money.”

Mike Jones, superintendent of Arnett Construction, said he believes that labor unions were once a good thing but now are trying to control the market, driving wages up so that everybody makes the same wage based on yearly increases even though they may not be as qualified as others.

Carpenter’s Local wants Brady’s business to become a union because of the size of his company, which has 200-600 workers currently in the field, claims Brady. The third generation owner calls it an “organizing campaign.”

“They wanna force me to be a union contractor,” Brady said.

Patrick Fuller, superintendent of HAR Construction, which is working on the L building, said he thinks that union and non-union contractors need each other.

“If it wasn’t for unions, wages wouldn’t be set where they are. We need each other,” Fuller said. “We keep each other balanced like Republicans and Democrats.”

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‘Shame on City College,” union protesters say