Union pickets idle job site in Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook - Members of a carpenters' union picketed near a stalled construction site here Friday in an attempt to call attention to the need for "meaningful and enforceable work standards."

Eight members of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters demonstrated in the vicinity of Spencer Plain Road and Boston Post Road, according to David Jarvis, an NERCC organizer and Local 24 member.

On Monday, the state Department of Labor had issued stop-work orders to contractors at the site because it said they lacked required state workers' compensation coverage or unemployment coverage for employees.

A retail complex known as Max's Place is being built at the location. It is to include a Big Y grocery store and a Kohl's department store.

The picketers displayed an inflatable figure that represented a corporate "fat cat" strangling a construction worker, Jarvis said.

State inspectors found that Alvin Quality Masonry of Bristol and Industrial Technical Services of Westfield, Mass., which were working on the Big Y, lacked the required workers' compensation or unemployment coverage, while G&F Group of Baldwin, Ga., which was doing carpentry work on the Kohl's building, lacked the coverage and had also misclassified its employees as independent contractors.

"When you bring in people from out of state and misrepresent them (as independent contractors) so you don't have to pay insurance coverage, everybody loses," Jarvis said. "No legitimate company can compete with that."

The NERCC, in a statement, said the Labor Department has ordered an increasing number of out-of-state contractors to stop work and comply with state law.

Contractors ordered to stop work cannot resume working until they have corrected all deficiencies. They face fines of $300 per worker per day for the days on which they operated in violation of the law.

General contractors at the Max's Place project are the Schimenti Construction Co. of Ridgefield for the Kohl's project and F. William Brown of Norwich for the Big Y project, according to the Labor Department.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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