Union representatives lash out against tile contractor
Two union workers stood on the outskirts of Tercero’s southern parking lot on the morning of April 27, and attempted to catch the attention of bikers and cars traversing the intersection of Bioletti Way and La Rue Road. Perched next to them was a banner that read “Nor-Cal Tile & Stone Hurts Working Families. Shame on You!” and a giant inflatable cat wearing a business suit. The cat had a bag of money in one hand and a choking construction worker in the other.
The two protesters were members of the Bricklayers, Tile Layers and Allied Craftworkers (B.A.C) Union, which represents construction workers and craftsmen. One of the protestors, Robert Menke, is the recording secretary of B.A.C’s Manteca chapter. Menke explained that the purpose of the protest, or “bannering” as he put it, was to shed light on the unfair labor practices of Northern California Tile & Stone (NCTS), a Sacramento based tile contractor.
“The bannering is done to let the workers and people on campus know that Northern California Tile & Stone is not paying the proper area wages,” Menke said.
Although there is a considerable amount of outrage toward NCTS, the protest remained fairly low key and tranquil. Most of the commotion came from the construction crew 100 feet away working on the new Tercero residence halls.
“We’re not striking, we’re not causing any fuss,” Menke said. “We’re just trying to let people know what’s going on. It’s just something our union came up with that we can do that’s not as serious as a strike or picketing a place. That way we’re not stopping anyone from working.”
One of the main reasons why the B.A.C protest took place on campus grounds is because UC Davis has NCTS under contract. Currently, the tile contracting firm is working on the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art as well as the UC Davis International Center. The banner protest in Tercero was a part of an ongoing dispute between B.A.C and NCTS, in particular, NCTS’s refusal to work with the union.
“The long term objective of this protest would really be for Northern California Tile & Stone to come on over and be a union contractor,” Menke said. “Then we could help them and they’d have all the manpower they need.”
Most students in the area merely walked by the display, but the two protesters vigilantly remained in the Tercero parking lot all morning, standing proudly by their banner, intending to fight everything their inflatable cat stood for.
Written by: Eddy Zhu — firstname.lastname@example.org