SMART 16 protests data center for dumping union contractor


Sheet Metal Workers Local 16 is spreading the word: HITT Construction replaced union crews with a non-local, non-union subcontractor at the last minute. 

“It was a small but substantial project, which would have showcased the exterior sheet metal,” said Local 16 organizer Matt Haines. 

HITT, a general contractor headquartered in Washington, D.C., is building a new QTS data center in Hillsboro. For most of the project, HITT subcontracted with Local 16 signatory contractor Harder Mechanical to do the sheet metal work, said Local 16 rep Darrin Boyce. 

Last month, the project’s scope was extended to include additional work. Boyce said Local 16 workers had already started drafting plans and ordering new materials when they learned they’d been taken off the project. In their place, HITT hired Flynn Group, a non-union construction company based out of Winnipeg, Canada. 

“Basically we did all the thinking, and (Flynn) came in to do all the work,” Haines said. 

Flynn specializes in roofing but provides some sheet metal services. HITT originally hired Flynn as a roofing subcontractor; it was one of few non-union subcontractors on the project, Boyce said. 

“QTS has been predominantly union for a majority of the crafts,” Boyce said. 

Boyce and Haines contacted HITT’s executive project manager to ask about the switch. Boyce said the manager “flat out told us that (Flynn Group) was cheaper and that they were looking to save some money.” Haines said the manager admitted he was satisfied with the work Local 16 members did, and he would hire union workers again if the project wasn’t in the red. 

“I pointed out that it’s really disappointing to end a job that was so good for us on such a sour note,” Haines said. “We were in the most highly union dense three-mile radius, right down the street from Intel, and this work is very important to our members.” 


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