Union workers protest outside NL Plaza Hotel

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New London - About 30 unemployed union workers from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters protested Tuesday in front of the New London Plaza Hotel to highlight a construction company's payment of wages and benefits that they say are lower than standard.

The workers, who included carpenters, electricians, pipefitters and other tradespeople, carried signs that read "Sandoval Construction Does Not Conform to Area Standards." Organizers noted that the North Carolina company had been cited last month by the state Labor Department for misclassifying personnel as independent contractors and failing to provide workers compensation benefits related to work at the hotel site.

Bob Beauregard, business manager for Local Union 24, said Sandoval has been issued about 800 stop-work orders by the state over the past few years for state labor violations.

"This has nothing to do with the hotel," Beauregard said as picketers created a tight circle in front of the former Radisson franchise while marching, banging on a drum and blowing whistles.

Telephone calls to the hotel and Sandoval were not immediately returned.

Outside the hotel at 35 Gov. Winthrop Blvd., scaffolding could be seen rising several dozen feet in the air, but no workers were in sight. Union members said they had earlier spied eight to 10 people working outside the building and 10 to 12 doing inside repairs, including carpeting work.

"It's outrageous," said Robert Corriveau, a union organizer. "We need to make a fair wage for work."

Beauregard said the use of workers from outside the area was particularly distasteful in a city where unemployment hovers over 10 percent.

Organizers said they plan to protest in front of the hotel once a week until Sandoval conforms to pay standards. Students from the ISAAC School across from the hotel came out and met union representatives Tuesday morning as part of a civics lesson.

l.howard@theday.com

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