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Construction contracts upset union organizer

April 18, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

Contracts awarded as part of a $150 million construction and renovation project at Volvo Powertrain North America have drawn the ire of a representative of a local carpenters union, who stood outside with a banner protesting the company's actions Monday.

Though Ron Maners stood next to a huge white banner that read, "Shame on Volvo Powertrain," a company official said the dispute is between a carpenters union and subcontractors - not Volvo Powertrain North America.

Maners, a business agent/organizer for Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, waved to passing motorists as he stood outside near Interstate 81 and Maugans Avenue. He said two other people would join him in the protest, but they were eating breakfast at Waffle House just a few yards away.

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Maners refused to answer questions about the protest, but provided a neon pink flier with the words, "Shame on Volvo Powertrain for desecration of the American way of life." According to the flier, two companies that were awarded contracts to do construction work for Volvo Powertrain, "do not meet area standards, including providing or fully paying for family health care and pension for all of (their) carpenter craft employees."

John Mies, a spokesman for Volvo Trucks in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday afternoon called the banner "misleading."

According to Mies, the banner refers to a dispute between subcontractors and the union, not Volvo Powertrain, that is being worked out.

"We think it's important to emphasize that this banner does not refer to a dispute between Volvo Powertrain and the United Auto Workers or to a dispute between Volvo Powertrain and other unions," Mies said.

The Hagerstown facility employs 1,180 members of United Auto Workers Local 171, Mies said.

Maners would not say Monday morning whether the banner reflected the union's official position. In a phone call Monday afternoon, he said he represented "the worker," and he referred further questions to Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters' Baltimore headquarters.

State-level representatives of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters did not return calls Monday.

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