Aug 212007
 
Authors: Laurel Berch

Less than a week after students moved into CSU’s new Academic Village, a workers’ advocacy group is scolding the university for hiring what they call “a rat contractor” to construct the building.

Three members of Carpenters Union, a Kansas City-based labor group, handed out fliers on the corner of Pitkin Street and College Avenue Tuesday with a banner that read: “Shame on Colorado State.”

On the fliers, the group charged the university with “desecration of the American way of life” for working with a contractor they say doesn’t pay its employees area standard wages, which are the wages typically earned by carpenters in Colorado.

“The purpose of the campaign is to inform the public and let everyone know,” said Dave Wilson, an organizer of the demonstration. “We are asking owners, developers and contractors to pay the area standard wages that include providing health insurance and retirement benefits to all employees.”

CSU contracted with Whiting-Turner, a Denver-based contractor, on the project, said CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander.

But Diversified Builders – the company targeted in the dispute – was hired as a subcontractor by Whiting-Turner, a decision Bohlander said the university had nothing to do with.

“As a state institution, the university has a lot of detailed steps it must go through to enter a contract,” Bohlander said. “We have a contract with a contractor. (Whiting-Turner is) responsible for any other contract. (and) to ensure all sub-contractors adhere to state laws.”

In a formal letter sent to CSU President Larry Penley earlier this month, the Carpenters Union urged the university not to work with Diversified Builders.

“Diversified Builders does not meet area labor standards. It does not pay prevailing wages to all of its carpentry-craft employees, including providing or paying for family health care and or pension benefits, on all of its projects,” the letter said.

In the letter, the group warned the university of its plan to formally campaign against its hiring choice. Wilson said the campaign “includes highly visible banners at or near the premises of property owners, developers, general contractors, and other firms involved with projects where Diversified Builders is employed.”

The president’s office has received the letter, Bohlander said, but has not yet responded. The university will consult its attorneys before responding, he added.

Letters were also sent to the Board of Governors of the CSU System, Facilities Management and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

Wilson said his group has also put up a billboard in Denver and displayed a banner at a department store for similar disputes not related to the university.

Diversified Builders was not available for comment during business hours Tuesday.

Staff writer Laurel Berch can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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