ROXBURY, NJ – Some motorists on Route 10 tooted their horns as they passed the site of the upcoming Shops at Ledgewood Commons mall. But their beeps were not expressions of excitement that the long-awaited project was finally being built.
Instead, the honks were signs of support for a group of union carpenters protesting on the sidewalk.
Accompanied by large plastic rat statues, the picketers were telling the public that Phillips Construction, a contractor that is building parts of the new mall, was not paying its workers union-level wages.
The protestors were members of the Edison-based United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America Local Union 254. Between 25 and 50 union members were walking the picket line, waving to supportive, horn-sounding motorists.
“They’re paying less than the area standard wage,” said Local 254 Council Representative Cyndie Williams at the site on Tue., Jan. 14.
As she spoke, the sound of squealing tires alarmed the picketers. Possibly distracted by the protest, a Jeep Wrangler nearly rear-ended a cargo van right next to the picket line.
Alex Lopez, another Local 254 council representative, explained that the union was not necessarily unhappy that Phillips Construction wasn’t using union builders. It had to do with the salaries, he said.
“We’re trying to maintain a minimum area-standard, and this contractor is undermining that,” Lopez explained. “We’re not targeting the workers as much as the contractor.”
Neither Phillips Construction nor the developers behind the 470,000-square-foot Ledgewood Commons project - a partnership of Advance Realty Investors, DeBartolo Development and Invesco Real Estate - could immediately be reached for comment.
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