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Labor Dispute Prompts Protest Outside Ross Park Mall

Carpenters group accuses the owner of Ross Park Mall of using a contractor who does not pay standard wages and benefits.

For the past several weeks, a large banner with the words "Shame on Simon Property group” has greeted drivers at the south entrance of , just off McKnight Road.

Simon Properties operates the mall, but the dispute does not involve any current work being performed there.

Members of the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters accuse Simon Properties of hiring an independent contractor who does not pay area standard wages and benefits at another property in the South Hills.

"Cajota Contracting, LP is performing work on Simon Property Group, Inc.'s project at South Hills Village in Bethel Park," the group said in a statement. "Cajota Contracting, LP does not meet area labor standards for all of their carpenter craft workers, including fully paying for family health benefits and pension."

"This is totally ridiculous," said Rich Stumme, president and owner of Cajota Contracting. "This is just an attempt to get us to join the union, but we can't afford it. We are an open-shop company, because we can't afford the union costs. Their cost structure is 45-50 years old, it's antiquated."

The Carpenter's group said Simon Properties has an "obligation" to the community to see that area labor standards are met for construction work at all their projects. 

A spokesman for Simon Properties declined to comment.

"They should not be allowed to insulate themselves behind 'independent' contractors," the carpenters' statement said.

Stumme said the protest is also outdated because his company finished its work at South Hills Village six weeks ago. 

"The carpenters union just wants to put the little guys like me out of business, so all of the work goes to the big firms," he said. "Well I'm not going to play their game." 

If you see news happening in Ross or West View, e-mail editor Richard Cook: at Richard.Cook@Patch.com

Mark A. September 07, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Union bullies.
WestView September 07, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Don't let them push you around, Cajota. Shame on the union for their strong arm tactics.
Renee September 07, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Unions need to go away.
Jane Taxpayer September 07, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Hopefully they'll go the way of their current leader come November...
zach smith September 08, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Way to go keep fighting for the blue collar. working class .... Wages and benefits need a standard in the construction industry
Steve September 08, 2012 at 04:19 AM
What Cojota fails to tell you is his bid is not much lower than a union bidder. He just pays his employees less and puts more money in his own pocket. This is not only in construction it's common everywhere these days. So Jane this is the path you want in November, let's crush the middle class more. I am a union carpenter and proud of it.
Matthew Cook September 12, 2012 at 02:10 AM
So Steve you prefer an artificially high wage rather than a wage that reflects actual demand? That's how we get higher unemployment. If someone is willing to work for less than the union wage, why should that be prevented? Union wages, benefits and work rules destroyed GM (it is currently surviving only by being attached to the federal respirator of 23+ billion of taxpayer funding...no wait BORROWED taxpayer funding.
Avalon September 12, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Matt, so a non union company never went under? it happens all the time in both sectors. Unions train and certifie you to perform whatever job, chances are non unions are bringing in more people that are illegal and are not qualified. Just go down south you will see tons of illegals. If you'e non union and the boss wants to get rid of you because he does'nt like you not because of job performance you're gone. Unions will fight for you if they think it's justafied, unions are not perfect by no means but are for the working man..
HB December 01, 2012 at 06:29 PM
And right you are, Steve. My husband is a union carpenter, his uncle, father and grandfather. I and my father and his brothers were union workers. I had worked in the legal profession for a so-called Republican who truly believed in the 'trickle down' theory. Yeah, It trickled down. . . into her pocket first. I'll never forget the Holiday season she came sashshaying into the office wearing new jewelry purchased with her credit card and told the staff we weren't getting Christmas bonuses. THIS IS HOW SO CALLED 'RIGHT TO WORK' (NON-UNION) PEOPLE TREAT THEIR EMPLOYEES. They will always look at us as an expense instead of an asset.
HB December 01, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Mark-I don't believe the definition of bully applies here. Americans are entitled to the right of free speech.

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