Carpenters picket downtown hotels

Carpenters picket downtown hotels

May 26th, 2011 by Staff Report in Business Around the Region

Picketers from the MidSouth Çarpenters Union protest against the downtown Doubletree and Hampton Inns hotels where some construction work was previously done by nonunion subcontractors. Staff Photo by Dave Flessner/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Picketers from the MidSouth Çarpenters Union protest against...

Nearly two months after construction ended, pickets from the Tri-State Carpenters union continue to protest the downtown hotels where nonunion subcontractors were used in the past.

Representatives from the MidSouth Regional Council and protesters on the site declined to talk about their protest, and union officials did not return repeated requests for an interview.

The pickets began displaying banners claiming "Shame on Hampton Inn" and "Shame on Doubletree" nearly six months ago when EMJ Corp., the general contractor for the Hampton Inn and Suites hotel on Chestnut Street, didn't employ unionized carpenters on the project.

In brochures handed out to those entering the hotels, pickets blame the builders of the hotel "for contributing to the erosion of area standards" and "for desecration of the American way of life." The union claims that nonunion K&B Drywall, which was hired for part of the hotel construction, "does not meet area labor standards" or fully pay for family health care benefits.

The pickets want Vision Hospitality, which owns the hotel, "to see that area labor standards are met."

But Mitch Patel, owner of Vision Hospitality, said he hired EMJ, which has used both union and nonunion subcontractors in the past, for the work.

"Any developer will tell you that the issue is between the general contractor and the subcontractor when bidding and building the project," he said. "It is not about nor has anything to do with the building owner."

Although the protesters claim a "labor dispute" on their banner, there is no current dispute among those employed at the hotels. The disputed construction work was done months ago, Patel said.