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UPDATE: Union Ironworkers Picketing at Lakeville's Walmart Site

Local 512, a local ironworkers union, staged a picket-line protest at 7 a.m. on Friday at the new Walmart site in Lakeville. The union is protesting the subcontractor's use of non-union laborers.

More than 100 union workers in hard hats and holding picket signs arrived outside of the new Walmart site in Lakeville on Friday morning to protest the use of what they call "unskilled and underpaid workers" by the project's sub-contractor.

Local 512 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers began the protest at 7 a.m. on Friday. They say the use of non-union laborers to erect steel at the Walmart Supercenter that's under construction in Lakeville is a cost-cutting tactic by AME Construction of Wayzata.

"This is about supporting and representing the workers in there," Charlie Roberts, who is a Lakeville resident and business manager for Local 512, said while pointing to the Walmart construction site. "It's not a union or non-union thing."

AME Construction President Scott Vickerman said Friday morning that AME is a reputable company that pays its workers fairly. It has been in business for about 20 years, he said.

The allegations made about the company exploiting workers "are false," Vickerman said, adding there are seven non-union roofing workers on the project. He also said AME's pay ranges from $40,000 to $65,000 a year with full benefits.

Pointing to the Lakeville 21 Theater across the street, Roberts said many of the men standing in the picket line live in Lakeville.

"I worked on the theater," he said. "The fair wages we receive allow us to live here—allow our kids to go to school here."

Roberts wasn't willing to say how he or the union discovered AME's workers were being paid less, or how much less they were being paid. He said AME's workers are largely attracted to non-union work through word of mouth. He said there's not much training involved.

"We want the AME workers to be paid at established standards so the men in there receive the wages to buy the same tennis shoes for their kids that we do," Roberts said. "We're not protesting the workers or Walmart—just AME. AME is exploiting workers.

“It’s time for them to stop these deplorable business practices. Not only is the safety of those untrained workers at risk, but the public must also be concerned that a major retailer’s building was erected with untrained labor.” 

Roberts said this is the first time the union has picketed a job site in Minnesota since the late 1990s.

The site of the new Walmart store is located at Keokuk Avenue and 207th Street West, near the Lakeville 21 movie theater just north of County Road 70.

According to a press release, Local 512 is staging what is called an "Area Standard Picket," which means they're protesting in an orderly and peaceful manner.

Lakeville Patch will have more on this story as it develops.

ABSG February 17, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Sounds like this is more about Sour Grapes. AME can pay their employees whatever they want, afterall they are running a business! AME obviously has employees willing to work for them and for what AME is offering to pay. I see no argument here. "Cost-Cutting Tactics"?? HA!!! They provided Walmart their price to do the job - period end of story! p.s. This has nothing to do with anyones political position.
Charlie Gerk February 17, 2012 at 11:06 PM
ABSG, I could not agree more. All the welds, bolts, alignments and so forth will be tested to the same standards. Union or not. If the 512 wants to use wages as an argument, let them. But don't disregard and disrespect the work and talent of the non-union iron worker just because you don't like the fact they are working.
Jeff Peterson February 17, 2012 at 11:13 PM
No but they are forceing those workers to work in an unsafe enviroment. I watched first hand, and I am not a member of 512, Using a lull at max extension to set iron. A crane is the proper tool and when someone gets hurt I guess some will be happy that walmart saved a dollar.
Johnny Jum Pup February 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I understand that a number of the AME employees were trained by and are former 512 iron workers, they can't be that bad.
Charlie Gerk February 17, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Jeff, If you witnessed an unsafe act I would highly recommend you contact MDLI (MNOSHA) at (877) 470-6742. Again non-union workers are held to the same safety standards as union workers...I have seen plenty of unsafe acts in my time in the field by both parties.
ABSG February 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM
No one is forcing anyone. OSHA ensures that all work areas are safe...they would shut it down and fine the companies if there were safety violations.
ABSG February 18, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Charlie - not sure how you got the impression that I was being disrespectful to any worker and that certainly was not my thoughts. I appreciate the work that all of them. I have friends that are union/non-union. Nor do I dislike that fact that they are working...maybe you need to re-read what I wrote. Sorry for the confusion.
Jeff Peterson February 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I think many are missing the point. After some research it appears local 512 is doing an area standards campiagn. Which means if A.M.E. pays the area standard wage for that job, the picket comes down. Seems like the union is fighting to increase the wage of the non union worker. HMMMMM
Jeff Peterson February 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Charlie, how long did you work for A.M.E.? I know that A.M.E. hasn't talked to 512 in nearly 20 yrs so I don't know how they could be going from one to the next if there has been no dialogue.
Jeff Peterson February 18, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Charlie, I apologize I mistook ames for ame when I googled your name. I believe the current campaign is area standards and they are only attacking the wage being paid. And if ame were to pay the area standard wage they would be required to remove thier picket.
jim February 19, 2012 at 04:33 AM
The truth of the matter is the "area standard wage" should be what the market will bear. If AME can hire iron workers at a certain wage then so be it. If AME cant fill the positions because the wage is too low, they will increase the wage till they get the staff they want and need. These union guys are having a temper tantrum because they are on the bench and not working, and they feel threatened because someone is doing a job they want at a cheaper wage.
emil February 21, 2012 at 01:12 AM
jim who left this coment fails to realize that a employer who only wants to hire a worker at the wages that are substandard is also in part helping to establish the road work to make their state a right to work state which is only going to continue to decline the standerd of living and ability for the average worker to provide for their family and further widen the gape between the so called working classes and public populations and if that happens employers will start hireing who ever is willing to work that wage. in many more cases than not those workers will not have the training or knolwledge to compleate that job to the specks and tollerances of a trained worker will how long will it be befor more of the indestry becomes flooded with companies willput a workers safety below profit and quality a far third or farther accepting ame,s choice to hire and use their workers the way some feel they are is just a plink in the water that will be the start of a ripple effect that will not in this persons opinion (mine)be for the better of any american in the long run or our children but this is america and he is entitled to his opinon and to voice it in that i aplaude him
emil February 21, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Bravo steve i agree 100% and yes mr roberts thank you. Let someone ABSG try doing the work we do and experience the dangers ivolved and see if they would like to work next to a man who dose not have the proper training or knowlege and gets someone killed or maimed because a rat outfit wants to make a buck most of those outfits will not put you safty befor the all might dollar. walmart for the most part dose lower the bar finacialy in most cases and numericly put more people out of work that to work .
emil February 21, 2012 at 02:00 AM
i am reading some of these comments and all of us have our good points and bad i and anyone else would be a hypicrite (sorry was not a A+ student in spelling) to think thatone side is all the more better than the other side both have good n bad it all depends on your perspective as to if you are for or against union labor one thing i think that most can agree on is both sides can given the training provide a decent product. As to which side has workers that initaliy starts with more experiance I beleive that is union and when it comes to a workers safety and where their priority to that lies i also beleive that a union contractor is more concernd with that than a non as far as final product both sides are capable of delivering a acceptable ending.i am a fan of the concern for my safty because even though i have not been able to see my children their is nothing more i want than to come home when the day comes and give them all the love for the i have been saveing and have all my hands and stength to hold them and to my knowledge their are far less non union contractors that hold that as high but they are out their secondly is the retirement plans both at this time and space are really not that far apart
Greg Dawson February 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
@ charlie gerk, scare tactics? This is nothing more than a peaceful assembly exposing AME for the rats that they are. Scott Vickermans, the owner of AME. His family owned companies as union ironworkers and were quite profitable. Its just a shame he has taken the road he has a rat. His grandfather is probably rolling in his grave. Instead of just hiding behind your computer...why dont you come on down to the peaceful assembly or to 851 pierce butler route St paul, mn 55102 and share your hate for unions with some of my brothers!
Greg Dawson February 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Also, there is no comparison when it comes to union ironworkers and non union ironworkers(rats).. Rats build walmarts...UNION IRONWORKERS BUILD SKYSCRAPERS! Dont try and compare our work! From what I understand there is 5 walmarts being built it minnesota and local 512 ironworkers are building 4 of them. Wal-mart doesnt like bad publicity so maybe next time it comes to using non union labor...they will think twice.
ABSG February 23, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Ha - well looks like we have returned to the 20's & 30's - is Jimmy Hoffa getting all stirred up in his grave as well? Do your children go to school whine, bully and call other kids "rats" if they don't get their way? Your comments are a good example why Unions have a bad name. And Unions wonder why companies do everything possible to prevent their mfg. from becoming Union. Or Unions wondering why companies choose using non-union suppliers and/or sending jobs overseas? It's attitudes like yours - classic example! This is about being competitive - 512 was not and AME was...AME got the job fair and square. Furthermore, Walmart can choose whomever they want to build their buildings. The buildings will be built to code just like a Union building would be. The attempt to create doubt where there is none, makes you look desperate and foolish! And lastly, I am 100% sure you compare prices when you make a major purchase as well...so don't be a hypocrit!
s February 23, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Charlie, I disagree with you the first thing that OSHA asks you when they are contacted is if YOU ARE A UNION MEMBER. if yoWith that said, if you are they tell you they cannot do anything about it because it is a conflect of intrest! I know this because I have called and that is what I was first asked.
Matt Stumpf February 23, 2012 at 01:35 AM
What most of you are missing in all this is A.M.E. Bid this job at " almost " Union scale. It's no secret how much a union Ironworker gets paid. Vickerman has family not too far removed from being a union contractor. Don't think for one minute that brother/sister Didn't talk shop... What's really despicable in all this is that Scott Vickerman bids these jobs at the union total package and pockets the difference between it and his "Pay Scale". I don't think anyone disputes that A.M.E. has "qualified" employees. The dispute arises from the lack of equality for doing the same job. As for those of you who stereotype local 512 because they're union... You're sorely mistaken. There's no hiding behind the union there. If you don't cut it, you're down the road. For the arguement of the 512 members being sore because they are " riding the pine ", you my friend have just spoken out of your posterior end. The rank and file of Local 512 just want a fair wage for an honest days work. It's called 8 for 8. 8 hours work for 8 hours pay. They want to be able to provide insurance for their families at a reasonable price. They wish to be able to retire after a long safe career. Contrary to your belief, they would like to see ANYONE doing ironwork getting those same opportunity's. This is a union/ non-union arguement all the way, just not for the reason's you simpletons think. Obviously, you have lived a priveledged life fed by the silver spoon, or you're happy being exploited by your employer.
Nick February 23, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I will tell you, a non union contractor told me once that they charge the same per man hour as a union contractor, then they pocket the excess cash that they don't pay I'm benefits and wages in case they get nailed for not paying prevailing wage! Tell me that's not exploiting their workers and getting rich. Joining a union was the best decision I've ever made. I previously worked or too many non-union contractors that promise you too many things and never stick to their promises. If we let this stuff go by we will be working for poverty wages with little to no health care coverage and then mexicans will take over. Companies choose to not go union and go over seas because they can pay mexicans next to nothing to built a lesser quality product and get rich, in turn, out nation ends up where we are today! LOCAL 512 STANDS PROUD OF OUR WORK AND OUR MEMBERS!
Greg Dawson February 23, 2012 at 03:31 PM
blah,blah,blah...just hide behind your computer and your fake name and talk your hate. I got better things to do than argue about how much money wal-mart is saving by having rats build their building and how much money they may or may be not saving...because they would have went under if they didnt go with AME...right? lol.
Steve L February 24, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Friday 24th AME today earned the old name given by Union hands of "RAT" instead of facing growing numbers of picketers and the chance of news coverage the sneaky RATS stayed away from the job site. I have personally restrained myself from using that term because we are all just trying to make a buck but I also call em as I see em!
Greg Dawson February 24, 2012 at 10:35 PM
well said matt!
Greg Dawson February 24, 2012 at 10:35 PM
right on mr B!
Greg Dawson February 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM
They is what they is!
Terry Elliott February 26, 2012 at 12:07 AM
All this skirmishing doesn't paper over the fact that there is an inexorable decline in union membership (except for our all-growing, all-knowing government sector). We can focus on these little battles, but the war for unionism has been lost, even in Minnesota.
Box937 July 13, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Let me get this straight, if you don't belong to a union, you don't deserve a job? You must have had a stroke at some point. So someone that doesn't want to pay thousands in union dues every year to a union is not as good at his job as you are? You have been brainwashed my friend. And saying they should "think twice" sounds like a threat, but I guess that's how you union guys get what you want, by making threats. Maybe your union should take the thousands of $$ per year you pay in dues to help you learn to think for yourself. But then I suppose then you would realize that they are taking your money to buy politicians and votes that you may not agree with. I have worked in union and non-union shops, and the only difference is that at every two weeks the non-union guys had a little more money in their pocket (no dues to pay). We had the same pay, same benefits, same retirement. But you go ahead and keep calling people "rats", it reveals exactly what kind of person you really are.
Box937 July 13, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Exactly, if you disagree with someone you "hate" them right, can't be just a disagreement. I love how you describe what you are doing as a "peaceful assembly". But the company you are protesting are "rats" and have "hate for unions". So much for "peaceful". One of these days you are going to have a thought of your own and it's gonna scare the crap out of you.
Box937 July 13, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Also, you said 4 out of the 5 walmarts being built are by union contractors, sounds like an overwhelming majority to me, but unless you get ALL the jobs, you will never be happy I guess. I think you are just whining because they get to go to work every day without having to pay a union.
Box937 July 13, 2012 at 09:35 PM
You say the union workers would like to see "ANYONE" doing ironwork getting the same opportunities. But they repeatedly make threats to, and call non-union members "rats" Funny how you completely left that part out. Someone who owns a PRIVATE company can make a deal with another PRIVATE company to build them a new facility whenever they want, and if they want to use union or non-union labor is none of you're f^&cking business. Unions need to stop whining when they don't get everything they want. By the way, I was a union auto mechanic (UAW) for 5 years, left and went to a smaller non-union shop. I was payed slightly less per hour, but all be damned if NOT PAYING ANY UNION DUES more than made up for the difference. And I never did have to sit out on side of the road again getting pocket change in strike pay for 2 weeks, just because some union boss wanted to make himself feel important. No silver spoon here, so don't go making assumptions when you don't know shit about me. I work hard for every nickel make and I am happy to do it.

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