UPDATE: Community members picket for local labor
UPDATE — Monday, June 12th, 2017 4:00 P.M. EDT
The Regional Director of Marketing and Business Development with UP Health System Marquette, Victor Harrington, released a statement regarding the picketing that occurred on Monday. The full statement can be read here:
UP Health System – Marquette is proud that we can continue this hospital’s more than century-long legacy of caring for people across the Upper Peninsula, and we look forward to doing so in a new, world-class facility.
We are committed to supporting our community inside the walls of our hospital and beyond, and we are proud to be partnered with Skansa-Closner on the construction of our new facility. Key to our selection of Skansa-Closner was their commitment to employ a local workforce, which they have, when possible. Some parts of the project have required workers from outside the UP simply because of the absence of appropriate local manpower. Nevertheless, we are pleased that approximately two-thirds of the workforce consists of local workers.
We are extremely appreciative of the hundreds of local workers who are working in partnership with us on this important community project. Thank you.
MARQUETTE– Workers and community members are questioning their trust in Duke LifePoint Healthcare. This morning members of the community came together to show concern, ABC10’s Lauren Lee was on the scene.
Around 150 people ranging from elected city officials, nurses, and union workers were on were out here this morning voluntarily picketing in front of the new hospital. According to some they believed it was a mutual agreement to hire locally, which has recently been broken.
Skanska and business partner Closner Construction signed a $206 million contract with Duke LifePoint Healthcare to build the new hospital. From the beginning the owner didn’t want to enter into a project labor agreement with local unions.
According to voluntary picketers the company emphasized the want to hire local contractors and employ local people.
“Everything we have done with them has been based on mutual trust and understanding,” Building and Construction Trades Council Business Representative Mike Thibault said. “We feel we are the people that are going to be spending our health care dollars in this facility and we have supported the effort to build it. This local workforce has kept them on schedule maybe even a little bit ahead of schedule.”
“It’s sole survival is based on the residents that live here,” Marquette County Vice Chair Joe Derocha said. “Local hire, prevailing wage, and they should certainly at all times be wanting that.”
Currently out of the area contractors are importing their own workforce. Thibault said they understand having a couple key foreman to come in, but some sort of compromise needs to be made for local workers to be in on the project. The Marquette County Board passed a resolution sending a strong message stating prevailing wage and local hire, promote a higher standard of living and a better quality of life.
One local commissioner voiced concerns she has had from the beginning.
“You know if we go into agreements like this we need to, we need to put those things in the agreement,” Marquette City Commissioner/(D)Candidate for 109th District Sara Cambensy said. “We have seen a lot in the paper recently about Duke LifePoint wanting people to utilize our hospital here, to not go out of network for their services. But there’s a trust issue right now and when you have contracts where you’re bringing in out of state labor when you have your nurses who aren’t being able to settle their contracts, people in the community get concerns.”
“We know that local people that live in our communities will send their children to our schools, they purchase homes in the community, they buy other goods at local businesses,” Candidate for 109th District Jeremy Hosking said. “If we’re making local investments we need to hire people locally to do the work here. It’s very important that we help people find jobs locally to grow our economy.”
Throughout the winter months local workers set the structural steel. This morning volunteers ask community members to reach out and voice concerns.
Thibault said there is still the skill set and workforce here to hire locally.