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Monday, March 4, 2024

Fair labor concerns for UC Davis construction projects prompts protests

Group claiming to be associated with Carpenters Local Union 46 sets up signs and grim reaper statue at MU and Silo Market

By LEVI GOLDSTEIN city@theaggie.org

Beginning the week of Feb. 20, individuals wearing yellow construction vests claiming to be associated with Carpenters Local Union 46 have set up signs and handed out fliers at Memorial Union (MU) and Silo Market. A large grim reaper statue accompanies them.

The fliers read, “UC Davis and CBG Building Company are using wage rates from 2018 to pay workers right now on their Orchard Park project and it is SHAMEFUL!” and “Trashing wages and benefits hurts workers, families and our community!” They list Chancellor Gary May’s phone number and address, prompting all who support their cause to contact him to “ask to stop the roll back.” 

The group also printed on the fliers stating: “We do not seek recognition nor are we asking anyone to stop working, stop deliveries, or cease doing business with any employer.” 

According to Ryan Schlesinger, the Senior Project Executive on the Orchard Park project, CBG Building Company is a general contractor for construction projects across the U.S. such as student housing, third party multi-family developments and military housing. They employ multiple subcontractors in different construction trades on the Orchard Park project, for example, The Raymond Group and TK Elevator

According to Schlesinger, CBG is not in control of workers’ employment compensation. 

“Each of our individual subcontractors, they are the ones responsible for wages and benefits paid out to their employees in accordance with all the requirements set forth for this project,” Schlesinger said. 

UC Davis Construction protest at UC Davis Silo (Benjamin Cheng/Aggie)

According to Laura Zaner, the Vice President of Corporate Communications and Marketing at The Michaels Organization (TMO), the developer of the Orchard Park project, those requirements are set by the California Department of Industrial Relations. Zaner said that TMO does not know of the protests. 

“We have not heard or received any direct commentary from an on-site construction worker being unsatisfied,” Zaner said via email.

Schlesinger also mentioned that CBG is not in contact with any unions. 

The Orchard Park project, set to finish in 2023, is a student housing development comprised of 613 units, with 11 resident buildings, two community centers and one maintenance facility, according to Schlesinger. The Michaels Organization is partnered directly with UC Davis on the development. 

Carpenters Local Union 46 and the protestors declined multiple requests for comment. 

Written by: Levi Goldstein — city@theaggie.org

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