Members of the International Painters and Allied Trades said they will continue to picket the $105 million United Food and Commercial Workers Federal Credit Union’s site where its new branch is under construction in Pittston, Pa.
The IPAT union of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., contends the branch construction project does not employ union workers.
However, John Hayduk, president/CEO of the Wyoming-Pa.-based United Food and Commercial Workers FCU, said the branch is being built by a private contractor, leaving the credit union with no authority to require the developer to hire union workers.
“The private developer came to us and said he was going to construct a 2,000-square-foot building in Pittston, and he asked us if we wanted to put a branch in there,” Hayduk said. “We felt it would be a good location for us. The UFCW Credit Union did not have a say, however, on whom the developer could hire for the project. We don’t own the building, but we are going to buy the building once the project is complete.”
IPAT is not buying Hayduk’s explanation.
“Well, that’s the oldest trick in the book,” said IPAT Business Representative Bob Griffiths. “It’s called the ‘turn key trick’ where they circumvent using union employees with a developer who buys the land, builds on it with non union workers and then sells it back.”
Hayduk pointed out, however, that since 1999, UFCW has built three branches that employed union workers.
“After we purchased the land, we put the branch projects out to bid, and we told contractors that they must use union trades,” said Hayduk. “But in the Pittston branch construction, we didn’t have any say in the matter.”
Nevertheless, Griffiths argues UFCW should have asked the private developer to hire union workers because of the credit union’s longstanding relationships with the IPAT union.
The relationship with UFCW and IPAT unions goes back more than four decades. Approximately 20 years ago, IPAT operated its own credit union until it merged with UFCW CU. Griffiths said that as part of the union contract, every IPAT member has been required to open a summer vacation savings club at UFCW.
Griffiths said he is encouraging the union’s 265 members to close all of their accounts at UFCW.
“We are going to be up there again [Wednesday] picketing. We are not going to go away,” said Griffiths. “It they don’t want to do what’s right, why should we do right by them.”
IPAT members began picketing the credit union branch site last Friday.
Hayduk, who was a UFCW union member for about 10 years, harbors no hard feelings, saying the credit union has always had a good working relationship with all unions and sponsors and supports their community activities. He plans to continue that good working relationship with the unions.
“It’s too bad because we have supported the unions,” Hayduk said. “I have no hard feelings or anything like that. It’s just something that happened.”