Building trades protest Benson tower

More than 150 union construction workers took part in a Nov. 9 rally at the Benson Tower protesting Canadian contractor ITC’s use of out-of-state workers paid at rates below the prevailing wages for the area.

The $30 million, 26-story condominium is under construction at 1500 SW 11th Ave. at Clay Street in Portland.

The rally was organized by the Carpenters and Laborers Unions, but drew workers from nearly every building trades craft.

“Bringing in non-union outside workers is stealing from the community,” Oregon AFL-CIO President-elect Tom Chamberlain told the demonstrators.

“There have been union supporters run off of this job, countless safety problems and too many workers who aren’t earning a living wage,” said Bill Hoffman, an organizer for the Laborers Union.“This turnout today will show ITC that Portland is a union town.”

Jerry Auvil, an organizer for the Carpenters Union, said the job is nine weeks behind schedule. “And look down the street at the Eliot Tower: That all-union condo is seven weeks ahead of schedule.”

In September the Carpenters conducted a three-day unfair labor practice strike at the jobsite against sub-contractor Newway Forming Inc. of Canada. Some masons for union contractor Larusso Concrete of Portland honored the picket line, and ITC retaliated by firing the contractor and hiring an out-of-town non-union firm.

The developers are Portlander Joe Weston of Weston Investment Management and American Property Management.

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