Ironworkers rally for rights over construction project

Ironworkers rally for rights over construction project
Ironworkers and political leaders listen as Juan Galvan, business manager of Iron Workers Local 229, speaks to crowd. Complaints rang from not hiring local workers to bad on-site practices. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — Union and nonunion ironworkers joined together to rally next to the construction site of the Springhill Suites Marriott Feb. 16. Complaints ranged from not hiring local workers to bad on-site practices on the building project that broke ground Sept. 18.

“We’ve got to call their headquarters and say it’s not OK to come into a city, to bring workers from somewhere else and pay a lower standard than we have fought for here,” said Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council secretary treasurer, said.

“I’m out here to try to get the community aware of what’s going on with this project,” said ironworker Cesar Cabrera. “This project is being done by out of state contractors, out of state workers. It’s not allowing the citizens who are unemployed, jobs. These contractors are coming in and not paying area standards.”

Ironworker Cesar Cabrera gathers with fellow workers for rally. He said out of state contractors are not paying area wages. Photo by Promise Yee

Speakers said frugal hiring practices are taking too many shortcuts. It’s been reported that out of state workers are being paid less than the local prevailing wage. It’s also claimed that job safety and fair work practices are not being followed. Speakers at the rally said workers are being taken advantage of because of our difficult economic times.

“Hopefully when a job like this come to town they are able to negotiate with local contractors, local workers and get the citizens who are unemployed in this town work,” Cabrera said.

Among those at the rally were five Southern California workers who walked off the job and joined the rally. They said work conditions were unsuitable. Required safety equipment was not provided and workers were not given sufficient breaks, enough water or earned overtime pay.

Currently 80 Arizona workers are on the job.

Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez also attended the rally and spoke in support of hiring skilled local workers.

Sanchez said the first of five blocks of planned downtown redevelopment was expected to bring jobs to the community. She said she wants to work on changing hiring practices to ensure skilled local workers have an opportunity to get work.

Oceanside is known to have one of the lowest countywide ratios of jobs to residents.

“The idea was always putting people to work from our local workforce,” Sanchez said. “We lose on two levels, getting people back to work and all the money going out to Arizona.”

Attempts were made to reach Marriott International Inc. and Stage Hospitality management group. Those contacted said they could not address questions. Follow up will continue to be made to reach the project manager.


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