A local carpenter union is protesting a professional building under construction outside Rehoboth, citing low wages, benefits and overtime. This is about the group’s tenth such protest in the past three years. The local union rep said such protests have proven to be effective, but added that he hates to do “it like that.”
They are back! A local carpenter union is protesting the new professional building Jack Lingo Realty is building between Giant Food and Walgreens on Coastal Highway outside Rehoboth.
Mark Wagner, area representative for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 2012, is accusing Lingo of hiring a construction management firm, specifically Whayland, who has hired subcontractors such as Brothers Drywall. He said the carpenters on this project received low wages, low overtime pay and low, if any, benefits.
Wagner said he was not at liberty to say how much the carpenter workers earn at the site, but it is reported to be less than half of what the prevailing rate is for area carpenters. The prevailing rate, he notes, is about $40/hour with benefits. Wagner did say the carpenters at the professional building are not represented by a union.
Wagner expressed concern that a few large developers can potentially control and manipulate wages since they run a majority of the construction projects in the market. The workers have little options if each company cuts wages and they want to remain employed in the area.
Among those standing along Coastal Highway in the hot sun this past month was Steve Quandt, a carpenter who volunteered to hold this banner protesting the project.
The protesters have become a common sight along Coastal Highway. In the past three years, Wagner said his union has protested about 10 different projects, this being the most recent. He said such protests have proven to be effective, but added “I hate doing it like that.” They have been protesting this site for about two months now.
In this flyer the union provided, they accuse Jack Lingo Realty of “taking advantage of the great economic opportunities in the state…” and ignoring “the fact that these opportunities are created by the hard working people of Delaware.”
“Companies like Brothers Drywall Co. Inc.” the statement continues, “pay their workers significantly less than the area wage and benefit standards for Carpenters in Delaware and many of these contractors do not provide basic health care for their workers. Area standards have been established through years of collective bargaining and enable area trades workers to enjoy decent living standards, to patronize local businesses and to retire with dignity.”
Lingo, Whayland and the drywall contractor have not provided any comment for this article despite repeat requests by telephone and e-mail seeking their side of the story.
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Alan Henney is a lifelong Rehoboth Beach seasonal visitor although born and raised in Washington, D.C. He worked several years in D.C. TV news and has been writing the “Rehoboth Weekend Update” for more than 15 years. He earned a BA in journalism with honors and an MBA in computer info systems, both from George Washington Univ. He is also a diehard radio geek. If you have a news story or question, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org