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Union carpenters: Contractor paying subpar wages on hotel project

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: theday.com

Published June 21. 2012 12:00PM   Updated June 21. 2012 11:48PM
Tim Martin/The Day
Steven Sipperly, left, of Moosup, and fellow members of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters participate in an area standards protest in front of a new hotel under construction at 497 Route 2 in Preston by GEO Construction, Thursday, June 21, 2012.

Preston — Dozens of union carpenters picketed a hotel construction site on Route 2 this morning in an attempt to call attention to the practices of a subcontractor they claimed does not pay its nonunion workers standard area wages and benefits.

The picketers began demonstrating about 10 a.m., erecting inflatable figures and carrying signs.

"Geo Construction Does Not Conform to Area Standards for wage and fringe benefits," the signs said.

Geo Construction is based in Manchester, N.H.

Organizers with the New England Regional Council of Carpenters said the demonstration was not intended to disrupt work at the site, nor was it for organizational purposes.

"We're out here to protect both union and nonunion workers," Chris Bachant, an organizer with the council, said. "When a contractor doesn't pay benefits or the standard wage, it hurts the legitimate contractors that do – they can't compete in the bidding process."

The hotel being built at the site, about a mile from Foxwoods Resort Casino, will be a Hilton Garden Inn, John Levantino, the general contractor, said.

Work at the site began in December and should be completed this fall, Levantino, of The Woodlands, Texas, said.

"I think everyone has a right to express their opinion," Levantino said of the picketers. He said both union and nonunion workers are employed on the project.

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