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NEW: Carpenter Union Protests Outside New Telegram Building

Friday, April 20, 2012


Union members gathered at 100 Front Street to protest unfair wages.

Dozens of union members and local carpenters protested ourside the new Worcester Telegram and Gazette building on Front Street . People protested about the lack of benefits, equal pay, and lack of area standards from Champagne Drywall. The Agawam-based company is in charge of the current renovations taking place at 100 Front Street where the Worcester Telegram and Gazette will be relocating in the summer, according to Averal Capers.

Paul Johnson, Human Resources Manager at Champagne Drywall said the company had no comment on the protest but could affirm that they have been hired to do the renovations at 100 Front Street.

“We’re standing up for all carpenters. We build commerce. We build prosperity in this city, and they’re trying to shortchange us,” said Manny Gines, organizer for New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC). “We’re here protecting area standards for carpenter wages. It’s all about benefits and wages, and Champagne Drywall doesn’t comply with these standards.”

According to Gines, the company pays its workers much less than the union’s $33/hr rate.

“We want them to go the union. We’re asking them to make changes,” said protestor Mark Melanson. Protestors chanted in front of the building, banging buckets and repeating demands for Champagne Drywall to uphold area standards.

Security Director for the building, Greg Abraham, was on the scene with security, making sure the group was in the proper area. Worcester Police were also looking on as drivers honked and passersby stopped. Abraham stated that he had no issue with the protest, as long as it did not get out of hand.

“Champagne Drywall is a company that’s notorious for misclassifying employees. They don’t pay what they should. We’re sick of this,” said Jack Donahue of the NERCC. He has been a unionized carpenter for 27 years, and is tired of companies bringing in contractors from other areas. “There are plenty of local Worcester workers they could hire,” he added, gesturing to the group of protestors.

“We’ve had it. We’re coming out of three and a half years of a bad economy. The unemployment rate for carpenters across the nation was an average 30-40%. And they’re trying to pay their workers less than it takes to raise a family, to pay the mortgage, to feed your family? We’re done,” Donahue said.


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