By James Niedzinski
---- — MANCHESTER — A group of union members from the Carpenters Union Local 26 have been demonstrating against a Manchester-based construction giant for about a month, and union leaders say there are no signs of slowing down.
Union members have been holding a banner and waving to passing motorists on the corner of Elm Street and Central Street most mornings, just outside the headquarters of Windover Construction.
The union claims one of Windover Construction’s sub contractors, Deans Drywall Installations LLC of Merrimack, N.H., has illegally classified its workers as subcontractors, skewing benefit costs and the union workers’ ability to land the jobs. A representative from the drywall company could not be reached for comment as of press time Thursday.
“This kind of cheating goes on all the time in the industry,” said Ken Amero, Massachusetts organizer with the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.
Not so, says Lee Dellicker, president of Windover Construction.
Delicker said Thursday that the drywall subcontractor has properly classified their workers — and that the union is merely making a concentrated effort to discredit the company and get them to accept union contracts.
“That is a union allegation that is entirely untrue,” he said of illegally classifying employees. “I get quite upset about these claims.”
Windover Construction hired Deans Drywall to work on a veterans housing project in Beverly, and Amero said some workers for the drywall company should be classified as regular employees. The union represents about 500 workers stretching from the Lexington area to Cape Ann, Amero said.
When a construction company classifies a worker as a subcontractor instead of an employee, they do not have to pay social security, worker compensation, or unemployment benefits, Amero said.
Dellicker, however, said Windover has procedures in place to make sure workers are properly identified, and every worker must list their name and other information when on the job site. The construction company employs about 150 people, and earns about $75 million annually, completing about 10 to 19 projects a year throughout Massachusetts and some parts of New Hampshire, Dellicker said.
Among other Cape Ann projects, Windover was the primary company involved with development of the BankGloucester building which opened in late 2008.
Dellicker said the company specializes in custom, high-end housing primarily in the North Shore and has institutional projects as well.
Amero said members of the union visited the job site in Beverly and spoke with a worker who said he was getting paid as a subcontractor.
Amero said the employee only gave his first name, but he brought up the issue with Windover.
“We’re out there fighting for good jobs for union and nonunion carpenters,” he said. “People deserve decent pay and benefits.”
Dellicker, however, said the union “cannot provide me a name and they cannot provide me with proof,” adding that he’s urged anyone to come forward with evidence of mis-classfying employees.
“I want the unions to tell me,” he said.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.