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. 

Bob McBride December 29, 2012 at 07:48 PM
It's a legitimate question. If I were you I'd call someone at Village Hall or the PD and ask about it.
Bonnie Pedraza December 29, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Unions are what made our country strong and played a big part in enlarging the middle class. The people who bash unions don't know their history, nor do they know why it was necessary to form unions in the first place.
Vicki Bennett December 31, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I think there are poor safety practices all around that work site. I hate going to Walgreen's as they often block the street and parking lot with their equipment. Trucks pull out in front of traffic without looking. To learn that there are unqualified workers on the job is no surprise. Bob McBride should not comment on what's going on in Shorewood as he doesn't live there. From his previous comments on Patch, he has made it quite clear that he doesn't care for the "liberal" Shorewoodites and, because of his profession, he is biased against the union workers.
Bob McBride December 31, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Actually, I maintain a business address there and am in the area quite frequently. And actually, I find a lot of Shorewood's "liberals" quite amusing, if not particularly consistent when it comes to walking the walk when the issues hit close to home. As for union workers, I've had plenty of experience with them on varying levels - from working along side some of them when they were picking up extra cash while on strike from their regular jobs, to watching them organize, go on strike for a couple of extra holidays a year and, ultimately, screw themselves out of jobs completely and all sorts of ridiculous nonsense in between (see above).
CowDung January 01, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Vicki: Why don't you respond to Bob's comments with actual points, rather than just calling for him to be silenced? I respect Bob's opinions and find most of his comments to be useful in contributing to a discussion. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for most of yours. Please avoid making negative comments about your fellow posters, and try to limit your comments to the topic of discussion.


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