Labor union protests wages at five construction sites

Workers held a sign in an apparent labor dispute with Fort Financial Credit Union.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A labor union is protesting some Fort Wayne businesses and construction companies that it said aren’t paying workers the area standard wages and benefits.  Hired hands hold signs in front of five different locations across Allen County, shaming the businesses that chose the contractors.

Starting June 24, drivers on E. Dupont Road may have seen a big yellow sign saying, “Shame on you Fort Financial.”  During the morning hours, two men hired by the union (who aren’t members), hold the sign in front of the new credit union’s construction site.

The Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters is shaming Fort Financial because it contracted the building to Schenkel Construction.  The union said Schenkel Construction doesn’t pay its workers enough, which undercuts union carpenters who are then left without work.

“We would hope that these contractors would stop taking advantage of the workers by paying them a lesser scale than what the area standard wage would be in this area,” said Tom Case, a representative with the Council of Carpenters.  “They are paying carpenters.  Not necessarily union carpenters.  Just carpenters.  People who work in the carpentry field below what the area standard of what carpenters in this area should be making.”

Fort Financial isn’t the only business targeted.  15 Finds Out discovered the labor union is doing the same thing, at four other locations across Allen County for the same reasons.  During select morning hours protesters stand in front of the United Methodist Memorial Home, Dunham’s Sporting Goods, FedEx and Strahm Construction Inc.  Three of the five locations are Schenkel Construction sites.  The other two belong to Strahm Construction.

See a copy of all five of labor union’s handouts

Case said protesters have been outside the United Methodist Memorial Home, under construction on St. Joe Road, for about seven months.

For two days 15 Finds Out tried to get Schenkel Construction’s side of the labor dispute.  After a handful of calls and two trips to the company, it failed to respond.

Fort Financial President and CEO Steve Collins released the following statement about the labor dispute:

It is a disappointment that a union has decided to use the name of Fort Financial Credit Union in their dispute with a contractor.  We are not aware of any issues of their dispute, nor has anyone from the union attempted to contact Fort Financial.

Fort Financial supports and serves multiple union groups.  The credit union was originally formed by a union that banded together to seek affordable financial services.

Fort Financial worked through a local architect and requested bids from nearly a dozen local contractors.  We chose the builder based upon reputation, quality and price.  Any disputes between the contractor and the union were not known by nor a decision of Fort Financial.

Again, it is disappointing that the union would not discuss their issues with us but instead give the appearance that the credit union was somehow involved. We respectfully desire the best of wishes to all parties in resolving their issues.

                                                            -Steve Collins

                                                            President & CEO Fort Financial Credit Union

The labor union plans to protest the five locations indefinitely.  Case said protesters should be there even after construction is completed.

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