Workers Picket Outside Sparks Store Under Construction

SPARKS, Nev. (AP) - Local construction workers and their families picketed outside a Sparks sporting goods store under construction to protest what they called a contractor's failure to provide fair wages and benefits.

Friday's picketing by more than a dozen people was directed at Custom Painting and Decorating of Sparks, which is working on a Scheels store in the Legends at Sparks Marina project, said Russ James, organizer for Local Union 567 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

While the project is being built with taxpayer incentives and taxpayer-backed bonds, the contractor is failing to provide adequate benefits such as employer-paid family health care coverage, James said.

"Construction records provided to us by the city of Sparks show at least eight out-of-state contractors who don't utilize local labor performing work at the Scheels store," James said. "These contractors and their employees are taking our money and running."

Dan Warren, owner of Custom Painting and Decorating, said his workers are offered fair wages and benefits.

"Our guys walk away with more money than a union worker," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The union called on the city of Sparks to require the contractors to provide the same benefits as union members get.

City of Sparks spokesman Adam Mayberry said the city would not
consider the request.

"Our primary concern and what the law requires us to do is to ensure that the prevailing wages are being paid," Mayberry said. "We are not going to get into any contractual issue beyond the prevailing wages."
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-15-08 2043EDT