About a dozen representatives from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters picketed the Hartford Hospital construction site on Sullivan Avenue on Thursday, stating that a subcontractor was paying substandard wages.
William Jordan, the group’s business representative/organizer, said that GDS Contracting Group, which is handling the project’s framing and drywall, pays its carpenters wages that are below that of other subs that have been hired to handle work on that site.
“We feel after our investigation that GDS is not paying an area-standard wage,” said Jordan, who added that the picketers were not GDS workers. “This is not union or non-union. This is about paying a living wage that people can afford a family in Connecticut, provide health insurance and a pension plan.”
Jordan said that, after repeated requests, GDS still had not provided information as to how much it was paying its carpenters, though Jordan said that he believed it was barely above minimum wage.
“In the present climate of corporate greed in America, we consider that to be a substandard wage,” Jordan said. “It puts fair contractors at a disadvantage.”
Messages left with GDS were not returned.
An official from the project’s general contractor, O,R&L Commercial Construction, said, however, that the demonstration was full of sound and fury, yet signified nothing.
Specifically, Todd Renz, president of O,R&L, said that nothing could or would be changed with the picketing, because the scope of the work on the project and the subcontractors’ rates had already been set.
“I don’t understand what they’re trying to accomplish,” Renz said, adding that his firm abides by the myriad state and federal laws that apply to contractors. “They’re just trying to get GDS’ attention. We’re an open shop. We have union contractors and non-union contractors. It’s unfortunate and unnecessary. We abide by the rules. We just go with what the best trade labor is.”