Downtown Cleveland protest highlights unpaid construction wages

November 15, 2018

Downtown Cleveland protest highlights unpaid construction wages

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A few dozen protestors braved rain, sleet and cold Thursday morning to march in downtown Cleveland, in an attempt to raise awareness over unpaid wages on construction jobs.

The Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, which advocates for low-income and immigrant workers, planned the protest on behalf of 17 carpenters who say they weren’t paid for work on projects in Northeast Ohio and outside of Cincinnati. The marchers gathered on Euclid Avenue outside of the Halle Building, a redevelopment project where workers are claiming they lost wages.

A lien filed on the Halle Building in September shows that a dozen people collectively are seeking $50,820 for work performed between June 25 and July 11. The lien names Cleveland Construction, the general contractor on the recent mixed-use redevelopment of the former department store. But the dispute actually appears to be between the carpenters and a subcontractor.

“They were not employees of Cleveland Construction, as all of our employees are paid timely,” Dan Dietrich, the company’s vice president of construction, said during a phone conversation. “We expect that all of our subcontractors pay all of their employees timely as well, in all of our workplaces across the country.”

The subcontractor, identified in a separate lien filed on the recently opened AC by Marriott hotel at Pinecrest in Orange, is a Columbus-based company called Tremax Construction. Nobody at Tremax could be reached for comment Thursday.

At the AC by Marriott, one worker is claiming unpaid wages of $26,145 between March 1 and Aug. 4. Carpenters also are seeking payment for work performed on off-campus housing projects at Miami University in Oxford, the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center said. The organization noted that most of the workers are Latino.

Don Crane, Ohio director for the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, attended the protest Thursday to support the workers, though he said they aren’t members.

“It’s a terrible time of year for people to be short,” Crane said. “Their electric bill needs to be paid every month like everyone else’s.”

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