Labor union protest sparks controversy

Members of University Carpenters 46 Workers Union gathered in protest at Sonoma State early last week. Representatives from the union passed out flyers on campus sporting a grim reaper holding a money bag with the words SUNDT and Profit on the image.

SUNDT Construction is not working on any current projects at Sonoma State, however this is the third demonstration where members in construction unions have protested against the actions, or lack thereof, of SUNDT Construction and the lack of action against the university to act on the demands of the protestors.

Two separate protests occurred on two other California State University campuses earlier this year, one at San Jose State University and the other at Cal State East Bay. Descriptions of the flyers from each of the protests all seem to match up. The flyer states, “Community Beware: SSU has failed to require SUNDT Construction and all of its subcontractors to pay the Carpenter Area Standard Wages and Benefits and to provide Training and Apprenticeship requirements on all their jobs all the time!!!”

The other side of the flyer, bearing the title, “Shame on SSU & SUNDT,” provides two contacts, Ruben Armiñana, President of SSU, and Eric Hedlund, chief operations officer/executive vice president. Though the contact information listed was incorrect.

The disclaimer at the very bottom of the flyer reads, “We do not seek recognition nor are we asking anyone to stop working, stop deliveries or cease doing business with any employer. Carpenters Local 46.”

The union representatives were not chanting nor answering questions. Rather, they passed out the flyers and stated that all of the necessary information was on the flyer. While union members were not available for questioning, a representative from SUNDT Construction, Jeffrey Perelman was able to comment on the protest.

In response to the printed statement about SUNDT failing to require certain stipulations involving equal wages and benefits, Perelman said that the union is responsible for Training and Apprenticeship requirements.

“Promises between the union and its members are for the Union’s consideration,” said Perelman.

The definition of a union, as found online at the Carpenters Local 46 website, states that men and women within the union work together to stand together for better wages, working conditions and benefits. According to this definition, the union is responsible for what workers need to work in a safe and suitable environment, not the employers. 

While it is difficult to know who is responsible, SUNDT Construction, SSU or the union, it is evident that the issue will continue.