Local Union Workers Protest at Oakland Avenue Development
Operating engineering workers say construction contractor VJS hired untrained carpenters to operate a crane in lieu of their labor group, endangering the public in the process.
Picketing union operation engineer workers have taken to the sidewalks in front of the Mandel Group development site to protest not being hired for work they believe they were promised and are more qualified for.
Pewaukee-based construction company VJS didn't hire the labor group after advising they would get the work, said Greg West, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 139, Business Representative.
Instead, West said, the company is using carpenters to operate a large crane on the site of the new $34.8 million Lighthorse 4041 development, which will include 84 apartments, a 18,000 square foot Walgreens retail store and two parking structures with 200 stalls.
“This freak show could have ended in the first hour,” West said of the labor dispute.
An onsite project manager directed a reporter to contact the main VJS office for comment, but no one from the company responded to a voice mail left Friday. A message left with a receptionist at the Mandel Group also was not returned.
West said he was told going with the carpenters was more cost-effective, but he believes the contractors are not qualified to do the work.
He said he’s watched as the workers perform work contradictory to the manufacturer's recommendations and the untrained workers are putting the general public at risk.
With all the recent crane accidents, Business Representative Rick Parrent said, he feels it’s prudent to have certified crane operators, like the men in his labor group, running the equipment.
“It’s disappointing,” said West.