Protesters Criticize Colgate’s Hiring of Independent Contractors

Protesters+Criticize+Colgate%27s+Hiring+of+Independent+Contractors

Nate Lynch

On Tuesday and Wednesday April 12-13, several protesters camped out at the entrance of Oak Drive and handed out fliers with the message: “Shame on Colgate University for Desecration of the American Way of Life.” The un­named protesters were presum­ably from the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters – a union that signed the fliers and has had a months-long dispute with the con­tractors working the Colgate Inn renovation project.

According to the flier, the union’s dispute with Colgate Uni­versity is over Colgate’s employ­ment of “LeMoyne Interiors,” a subcontractor for The Hayner Hoyt Corporation – the company that is working on the renovations to the Colgate Inn. The flier claims that the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters “has a labor dispute” with the aforementioned compa­nies because they “do not meet area standard wages, including provid­ing for or fully paying for family healthcare and pension for all of its carpenter craft employees.”

The flier goes on to call Colgate University a “rat” because it doesn’t pay Area Standard Wages. This sen­timent is juxtaposed with a large image of a rat chewing holes in an American flag. The flier ends by im­ploring Colgate University to stop hiring “independent” contractors and urging residents to contact Joe Bello of Capital Projects to voice their opinions.

The Colgate Maroon-News re­quested an interview with the three protesters present on Wednesday, but they declined.

“We can’t engage in conversa­tion,” one protester who identified himself only as “Bill” said. “We’re just here to hand out fliers.”

Vice President for Finance and Administration David Hale made it clear that Colgate University’s policy in terms of unionized and non-unionized workers is to embrace both when contracting capital projects.

“Our practice, which is often managed through a contractor, is to utilize both union and non-union workers,” Hale said. “We enjoy a very constructive relationship with our collective bargaining units. There were unionized subcontrac­tors used throughout the job and we have a unionized carpenter group engaged for the renovation of the old fitness center.”

Hale indicated that the Univer­sity was not going to engage with either side of the dispute, instead leaving conflict resolution up to the contractors and unions.

“We have been assured by the Hayner Hoyt Corporation that the carpenter group receives wages and benefits that are commiserate to the same wages and benefits throughout the region,” Hale said. “There seems to be some sort of misunderstanding. The unionized carpenter workers are understanding and Hayner Hoyt has done very good work for us. I hope they resolve their differences.”

A group of union protesters pre­viously came to Hamilton protest­ing LeMoyne Interiors in February under the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters union orga­nization, picketing in front of the Colgate Inn. Since then, the or­ganization has combined with the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters to create the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, a union with over 30,000 members.

In prior discussion with the Hayner Hoyt Corporation, President Jeremy Thurston in­dicated that they have had zero problems with union workers in the past and that no union contractors bid for the contract LeMoyne Interiors received.