Picketers protest wages
IBEW targets Reavy Rehab
08/08/2012 9:08 AM
If you swore off tequila shots on a weeknight after you thought you saw a 12-foot-high rat on the northeast corner of Sangamon and Jackson, well, it’s there.
The rat is wearing a bib with IBEW LOCAL UNION 134, and is accompanied by a half-dozen union workers. The giant rat, by the way, is inflatable and fits inside a compact box. A picketer told me nearly every local union has one they can use as an attention-getting device for situations like this. Some unions nickname their rat “scabby” as a reference to scabs.
Union 134 members began picketing at the site with the giant rat yesterday and are back today, since they’ve received no communication from the lease-holder of the site where construction is taking place.
The issue: wages being paid to trade workers rehabbing the first floor of the building at 220 S. Sangamon. It previously housed Fit Pro West, a workout facility with spartan décor—essentially, a carpeted, open-concept room filled with stationary bikes, weight benches and treadmills.
The new tenant, Reavy Rehab, will be a physical therapy facility, so offices and walls are being built. The subcontractors doing the work are being paid substandard wages, according to the IBEW picketers. They know what those wages are because of records available through the Freedom of Information Act.
One of the IBEW agents told me they regularly investigate construction sites where workers aren’t being the paid prevailing rate. Then, they take action—like this informational picket—to call attention to the practices. Generally, a ground floor space with papered-over windows is an indication that some building rehab or construction is taking place inside.