Non-union workers prompts labor rally at Menards

Fox Valley Building Trades rally

An Oct. 12 labor rally by the Fox Valley Building and Construction Trades Council raised awareness that out-of-state workers are working inside the Plano Menards Distribution Center on a facility that was to be built by organized labor or local contractors. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

PLANO — After two weeks protesting on its own, Elgin-based Laborers Local 582 teamed with Aurora-based Iron Workers Local 393 and called for an Oct. 12 labor protest against work being done at the Plano Menards Distribution Center.

In early September, work began inside the Menards compound on the construction of a facility to treat pressurized lumber — which was to be built by organized labor or local contractors.

“It’s being done by neither,” explained Iron Workers Local 393 Business Manager Dirk Enger, who was at the labor protest.

Fox Valley Building Trades rally

Affiliates from the Fox Valley Building and Construction Trades Council protest Oct. 12 at the Plano Menards Distribution Center where it is using out-of-state workers to construct a building on the Menards compound. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

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Enger attended previous Plano City Council meetings where a Menards representative indicated work would be done by “Fox Valley construction companies.”

“It’s a bad move. Our biggest issues is, the people who are in there doing the concrete right now are driving into work with vehicles with Texas and Missouri plates. They are not local people. The trust the community had with Menards has been lost,” Enger said.

Local, signatory contractors submitted bids, only to find Menards had already awarded the contact to Michigan-based IDH Concrete for 15,000 cubic yards of concrete.

Fox Valley Building Trades rally

Concrete is being hauled onto the property in trucks like the one pictured above. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Laborers Local 582 Business Manager Marty Dwyer said he talked with the project manager regarding the bids. “When I questioned why he was taking bids if the project had already been awarded, he said, “we’re in a hurry to get the job done.”

Fox Valley Building Trades rally

Aurora-based IBEW Local 461 debuted its newest Scabby the Rat, which sports a white button shirt, tie and vest. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

The new, pressurized lumber plant will require a non-drinking water well. During city meetings, a Menards representative indicated the plan is to sink a well to a low aquifer, which will not affect surrounding, deeper farm wells. That has Plano residents and farmers concerned for their water.

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“They’re worried about where Menards is going to dump the treated water, because there is waste treatment in that,” said Enger. “Menards said the water is going to be in holding cells, but there’s nothing on the prints that show holding cells. We’re concerned they’re just going to dump it on the ground, where it will make its way to the creeks, and then it’s an environmental issue.”

The Menards representative assured Plano officials no dumping would occur in storm or sewer pipes, which flow into the Fox River and into the water aquifer, which supplies Plano and other neighboring communities drinking water.

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Volunteering is good for the soul

An Aurora homeowner receives new roof

An Aurora homeowner received a blessing from organized labor when several building trades volunteered their time and skills over three days to replace an old, leaky roof that was costing the homeowner higher insurance premiums. Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia contacted the Carpenters and Laborers union in Lisle and Elgin for help. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

You can view members of the Fox Valley Building Trades doing work on the roof by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

AURORA — As Aurora’s Veterans Day parade was winding its way through Aurora Nov. 11, members from several labor unions were taking advantage of the sunny, unseasonably warm day, ripping shingles off a roof that was in long need of repair.

The home, in the 600 block of Adams Street, is owned by a low and fixed income senior who was caught in a cycle of paying higher insurance premium because her roof leaked. Unfortunately, the higher monthly insurance bill made it impossible to save money for the repair needed to be done.

Early this year, repairs were done made on her home through Rebuilding Together Aurora, but after a second request was made, help couldn’t be given.

An Aurora homeowner receives new roof

An Aurora senior in need received a new roof with help from Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and members from Carpenters Local 916, 1307 and Laborers Local 582. Photo courtesy of Laborers Local 582.

That’s when Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia stepped in. She represents the 83rd Representative District, which includes Aurora, Montgomery and North Aurora.

She knew the best and fastest way to get the job done was with organized labor, so she reached out to the carpenters for help.
“Many people don’t need a hand out — they just need a hand, and that’s what the unions were able to do for this homeowner,” Chapa LaVia explained.

Members of Elgin’s Laborers Local 582, and Lisle’s Carpenters Local 916 spent two days ripping off layers of old singles, repairing holes and getting the roof ready for the final day, when members from Lisle’s Carpenters Local 1307 shingled the 2,800-square foot roof.

An Aurora homeowner receives new roof

Union members volunteer their time for three days, tearing off numerous layers of shingles, doing roof repairs and re-shingling her roof. Jennifer Rice/staff photography

“When Linda contacted us to volunteer, we said, ‘of course,’” explained Local 916 Business Representative Brian Hooker. This summer, his members volunteered with Rebuilding Together Aurora working on homes for the community, so they knew what needed to be done.

Chapa LaVia herself donated money for materials and Republic offered a less-expensive rate for its Dumpster services.

An Aurora homeowner receives new roof

Union members did fine work and the finished product looks great. Jennifer Rice/staff photography

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“This is Aurora. This is what we do in Aurora — we work together to solve issues so people’s lives are better,” Chapa LaVia said.

She firmly believes the quality of work organized labor does is second-to-none. “It’s the best training you can get in a vocational arena,” she added.

If the community looked to each other more often, it would rely less on federal or state government, which is something LaVia would like to see more of.

“Our community is our brothers and sisters,” she said.