Union Members Picket Outside Colgate Inn

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Nathan Lynch

Members of the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters, a union operating in upstate New York, picketed in front of the Col­gate Inn on Wednesday and Thurs­day of last week before abruptly leaving without any substantive ne­gotiations taking place. The picket­ing group did not involve workers from the Colgate Inn renovation project and work on the Inn has not been delayed.

The Colgate Inn renovation project is being managed by the Colgate Inn, LLC company, which is a business operated by Col­gate University. The Colgate Inn, LLC hired Hayner Hoyt, a gen­eral contracting and constructing management business to perform the renovations. Hayner Hoyt, in turn, hired LeMoyne Interiors, an affiliated subcontractor of Hayner Hoyt, to work on the project.

The Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters, an affili­ate of the United States Brother­hood of Carpenters and Joiners of Con America (UBC), is a union representing 15,000 carpenters in New York State. According to their website, the union’s stated goal is “to promote and protect the inter­est of our members while elevating the ethical, intellectual and social conditions of all working men and women, encourage apprenticeship and a higher standard of skill, as­sist in securing employment, and endorse and maintain the highest standards of safety.”

There appears to have been no com­munication between the contracting companies and the union.

Associate Vice President for Community Affairs and Auxiliary Services Joanne Borfitz expressed the University’s involvement in the dispute.

“The Colgate Inn, LLC hired Hayner Hoyt to complete the reno­vation project,” Borfitz said. “They employ their own employees and hire subcontractors to complete the work. The dispute is between Hayner Hoyt and the Carpenters Union; not the Colgate Inn, LLC or the University … [the union] is claiming that LeMoyne Interiors is not a union shop and does not pay the carpenter union standard wages and benefits. LeMoyne Interiors feels differently.”

Borfitz also sought to distance the picketers from the workers on-site at the Colgate Inn.

“This is an outside union, it’s not the workers on the site,” Bor­fitz said. “They have not stopped working. They are not affiliated with the project.”

President of the Hayner Hoyt Corporation Jeremy Thurston was not contacted by the pick­eters and was unsure what their demands were.

“We have absolutely zero issues with the union carpenters,” Thur­ston said. “I suspect the reason they are picketing is that there is no union contractor on site … but we did not receive a single bid [for the Colgate Inn renovation] from a union contractor. They have not contacted us at this point.”

Both Borfitz on behalf of the University, and Thurston on behalf of the Hayner Hoyt Corporation expressed their previous record with union contractors and their policy to hire based on performance.

“We have had a very longstand­ing relationship between union and open-shop contractors,” Bor­fitz said. “It is Colgate’s practice to select construction firms on their proven ability to deliver quality project work.”

“LeMoyne Interiors … has been named one of the best com­panies to work for in New York State,” Thurston said. “Union contractors have worked for us on numerous occasions.”

The Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters was not available for comment.