A group representing an Austin-based carpenters union has been at the West Mall every weekday morning since July 19 protesting against what they say are unfair labor practices by a contractor working at UT.
“We’re just trying to alert the public to an issue not facing just Austin but the country,” said Craig Wright, an organizer for the Texas Carpenters & Millwrights Regional Council.
Carpenters Local Union 1266 member Gerald Boese has been protesting and said he has been working as a carpenter since 1966. A local contractor working on Bellmont Hall was being unfair to taxpayers and employees by not withholding federal taxes intended for Social Security, Boese said. The contractor, 4MC Enterprises Incorporated, did not return requests for comment.
“The University of Texas should look into employers like these contractors to make sure they are treating workers fairly and paying into Social Security,” Boese said.
Many of the people protesting are not members of the carpenters union and are paid $10 an hour to protest, Wright said.
“The carpenters union feels it’s fair to pay people to [protest],” Boese said. “It helps them out. It gives them a job for a couple of hours.”
According to a WFAA-Dallas report from December, the union has a history of hiring homeless individuals to protest.