Wages at heart of carpenters strike in Eastern Iowa
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -
Wages are at the center of debate in Cedar Rapids and have led the carpenters union to go on strike. Carpenters Local 308 works on projects in Linn, Jones, Benton and Tama counties.
Wednesday work on many projects, including the new central fire station and downtown library, both in Cedar Rapids, stopped.
"Sometimes you have to make a stance to do what's right for your members," said Dave Hogan, Business Agent for the union.
There's 425 members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local Union 308. After contract negotiations with contractors failed a strike began Wednesday. Carpenters say it was a last resort.
"A strike benefits nobody," said Hogan. "It doesn't benefit my members. They're losing work hours. Contractors are losing man hours on their projects."
Cedar rapids contractors say the union was offered a raise above the cost of living adjustment for the year but the carpenters want more.
"We have a fair offer on the table," said Mike Glavan, Vice President of Kleiman Construction, Inc. "They can come at any time and accept our offer."
The carpenters say they're waiting for the contractors to call with a new offer but the contractors say their offer is already on the table.
"I just don't think they're being reasonable on what their expectations are given the market conditions here in Cedar Rapids," said Glavan. "All the flood work is basically finished up. It's a soft, soft market from a bidding concept, public bidding work."
Both the City of Cedar Rapids and the Cedar Rapids Public Library were unsure about how the strike will impact their construction projects. However, the library says the new downtown location is still well on schedule for opening on August 25, 2013.
Thanks to project labor agreements, there are three projects in Cedar Rapids that will continue despite the strike. That includes the Linn County Courthouse, the parking ramp for the new convention center, and the U.S. Cellular Center itself, which hosts its first event June 1, 2013.