Members of the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters made their voices heard, as they staged a protest event to highlight apparent wage theft against non-union carpenters working on three projects, including the Halle Building project.
An estimated 40 members of the IKORCC alerted the public to the plight of 17 carpenters, mostly Latino, who reportedly had not received pay for their work. In total, the workers are owed an estimated $81,500, including one individual who is owed over $26,000 in unpaid wages. The carpenters have not been paid for work performed on an off-campus housing project at Miami University, the AC Hotel by Marriott Cleveland Beachwood and the Halle Building.
Ohio Director for the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters Don Crane said the 17 carpenters were not members of his union, but stressed this was not a union versus non-union issue. Instead, this is a worker issue and the carpenters union felt they needed to stand up for what they believe is right.
“We’re here today in support of these workers,” said Crane. “They put in a lot of time, a lot of overtime and they were not paid properly. They were exploited.”
Crane said situations like this happen frequently, calling it an underground economy that breaks federal labor laws, and federal and state tax laws.
“If we don’t do something to stand up for these workers, it will happen to every trade, in every city and to every person of every walk of life,” Crane said.
The IKORCC and the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, which advocates for low-income and immigrant workers, organized the Cleveland protest.
According to Brennan Grayson, Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center Director, his organization filed a lien on behalf of the workers on the Halle Building project. The lien seeks to recoup $50,820 for work performed between June 25 and July 11 by 12 carpenters.
On the AC by Marriott project, located at Pinecrest in Orange Village, one worker claimed unpaid wages of $26,145 between March 1 and Aug. 4. The remaining $4,500 is owed to four other carpenters who performed work on an off-campus housing project near Miami University in Oxford.
According to Crane the non-union carpenters came to his union, hoping they could help them.
“We take on wage theft as a banner of our being,” he said. “They came to us and we’re giving them help.”