Members of various building trades staged a demonstration outside the on Wednesday, protesting a North Carolina construction company.
The New England Regional Council of Carpenters shouted slogans such as “Shame on Sandoval” and “Rat in the building, rat go home” as they marched outside the hotel. Signs declared that Sandoval Construction was not in conformance with wage and fringe benefits standards. Parked across the street, a giant inflatable rat leered at the building.
The council said in a press release that Sandoval has been paying workers substandard wages and benefits for work they are doing at the hotel. It also protested the use of an out-of-state company for the work.
“When they bring workers in from out of state, it makes those workers that much more exploitable,” said Ted Duarte, senior organizer with the council.
Sandoval received a stop work order on March 30, one of 23 issued across the state in recent weeks by the Connecticut Department of Labor. The department said the orders were given to companies that “misclassify workers as independent contractors with the intent of avoiding their obligations under federal and state employment laws” including coverage of workers’ compensation, unemployment taxes, and payroll reporting.
“This kind of shines the spotlight on the underground economy that goes on all over the state,” said Bob Beauregard, business manager for the council.
“We want the contractor gone,” said Duarte. “They’re not playing by the rules. They’re not paying their workers, not paying them an area standard wage.”
Beauregard said he was also concerned that the hotel chose a North Carolina company over local workers. He said the local carpenters’ union offers apprenticeships for young workers, but that the region has a high unemployment rate and that the union is still waiting to bring 2010 high school graduates into the program.
“That’s a big thing for me. It’s very upsetting, especially for the city of New London,” said Beauregard. “We have a lot of members who live in New London, and a lot of members who are unemployed.”
Mayor Daryl Finizio made a brief visit to the protest to lend his support.
“Keep it up and let people know what’s going on here, because these are the kinds of unfair labor practices that we need to make sure do not happen in our community,” he said.
A representative for the hotel said they had no comment on the protest.