Protestors picket court site

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 4, 2013

 Members of Bricklayers Local 1 picket in front of the 40th District Court site Aug. 26.

Members of Bricklayers Local 1 picket in front of the 40th District Court site Aug. 26.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Ten months after union supporters packed City Council chambers, calling on members to require a prevailing wage be paid to workers building the new 40th District Court, about 50 protesters were back in front of the site of the new building to picket.

Led by field representative organizer for the Bricklayers Local 1 and St. Clair Shores resident Peter Accica, the picketers were protesting the work being done by subcontractor Tollis Development the morning of Aug. 26. Accica, who was among those who requested City Council look for contractors that would pay a prevailing wage at the Oct. 1 meeting, is also a candidate for City Council.

Accica said they would rather see workers paid union-level or prevailing wage so they could afford to live in communities like St. Clair Shores.

“We’re just looking for fair wages,” he said. “The bidding process should be every trade that works with the subcontractors should be bidding separately, (and) those numbers should be posted.”

“You don’t mind them paying low bid as long as it’s under prevailing wage.”

City Council voted in October to award the contract for the approximately $3.5 million project to Bernco Inc., of St. Clair Shores, which said at the time that approximately 30 percent of the work would be done with union labor. The company had estimated that guaranteeing prevailing wage for the contract would have tacked another $404,000 onto the bill.

Because of the protests when the contract was first approved, acting City Manager Mike Smith said he was not surprised the objections have continued.

“In other projects, when prevailing wage wasn’t paid, protestors did appear,” he said. “I certainly respect their position and their right to let everyone know their position.”

He said the contractors and subcontractors working on the job had already known that there was a possibility of protests at the job site, “and they planned accordingly.”

Accica said they’re just looking for fairness in the process.

“We want to see area standards,” he said. “There’s a lot of tradesmen living in the area.”

Smith said the project is still proceeding on schedule, and they hope it will be completed by mid-December.

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