Unions accuse subcontractor of exploiting workers

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Union carpenters sat in lawn chairs Monday afternoon at Stadium Boulevard and Providence Road handing out fliers that read, “Beware Jayhawkers Invade Columbia!”

The flier claims Dynamic Drywall, a subcontractor from Kansas for the construction of the Southwest Campus Housing project, is exploiting workers and squandering tax dollars. These claims are being made by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 1925 and the Carpenters’ District Council of Kansas City and Vicinity.

Roger Roper, president of Dynamic Drywall, said the matter is simple: Dynamic Drywall has nonunion carpenters.

“(Union workers) take offense when people come and do work at places they want to do work at,” he said. “Therefore, they make it as difficult as possible for us, and allegations are part of their tactics.”

The allegations against Dynamic Drywall, as noted in the flier, include that the company uses “large numbers of vulnerable foreign workers and has employed a practice of paying workers indirectly through a middle man,” which means the workers are provided no benefits and the contractor pays no taxes. Because the company pays no taxes, the flier said, “It deprives the community out of revenue much needed to maintain public services.”

Roper said he’s seen these types of allegations before.

“There’s not a thing in it that’s true,” he said. “We’re there by invitation, not by invasion.”

Roper said the allegations against its workers cannot be true because Dynamic Drywall has a certified payroll, which means it submits the payroll to the general contractor for review.

In February, a similar conflict came into public view when the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters held an informational picket at the residence hall construction site because the subcontractor, Questec, was not associated with the union.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said that for large construction projects, the university hires a general contractor, in this case Walton Construction. Basi said it is that contractor’s responsibility to finish the project.

“We have rules and regulations in place,” Basi said, “and rules and policies to be followed to ensure that all construction workers are paid the prevailing wage for the state of Missouri, which concern the subcontractors.”

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