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Laborers union protests YMCA choice

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 10:47 a.m. CDT
Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com Keith Maier of Laborers Local 32 stands outside the Kishwaukee Family YMCA in DeKalb on Monday next to an inflatable rat to protest the YMCA's awarding of a contract to a nonlocal, nonunion firm.

SYCAMORE – A Laborers Local 32 representative stood outside the Kishwaukee Family YMCA with an inflated rat Monday in protest of the organization’s choice in demolition contractors.

Polar Construction of Chicago recently started demolition for a $1.5 million renovation of the facilities’ locker rooms at 2500 W. Bethany Road in Sycamore. But union leaders were concerned the YMCA leaders chose a nonlocal, nonunion contractor. They said nonlocal, nonunion contractors often offer worse pay and benefits than their union counterparts.

“There’s plenty of local contractors that could have done that work,” said Matt Swanson, president of Local 32 of the Laborers International Union of North America.

Polar Construction offered the lowest bid for the work; the next cheapest bid was $100,000 more expensive, said Katrina Luetkebuenger, associate executive director of the Kishwaukee Family YMCA. The choice was fiscally responsible, she said.

“The rest of the contractors we are using are union, just not the one doing the demolition,” Luetkebuenger said.

The mechanical and electrical contractors chosen for the project are local companies, Luetkebuenger said. The demolition work should be finished this week, and the new locker rooms should be done by Labor Day.

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