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3/15/2013 2:37:00 PM
Labor dispute disrupts Genesis solar project
Heat and Frost Local 5 workers picket out front of the gate to the Genesis solar project off Wiley's Well Road.
Heat and Frost Local 5 workers picket out front of the gate to the Genesis solar project off Wiley's Well Road.

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - A dispute between unions at the Genesis solar project has Heat and Frost Local 5 workers picketing outside the site and forced other union workers to choose between working or crossing a picket line. Work on the project was halted temporarily but has continued.

According to Genesis officials, Heat and Frost Local 5 workers began to picket at the front gate entrance to the solar field off Wiley's Well Road on March 4. Genesis claims the issue is that the contractor, Petrochem Insulation, Inc., has hired workers from the Steelworkers' union rather than from Heat and Frost Local 5.

"The dispute was jurisdictional in nature and between the Heat and Frost union, and a contractor that utilizes workers from the United Steel Workers," Genesis officials said in a press release.

Officials from the Heat and Frost union, which is part of the Building Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and has 1,000 members, denied that was the issue. They claim Petrochem is not paying area standard wages as required by law.

"The only thing we're asking is for this union contractor to provide proof of area standard wages," said Ray Rothrock, business representative for the Heat and Frost Insulators.

Genesis officials said that Petrochem was hired to perform thermal insulation of piping and equipment on site. They said that Petrochem was selected through an open bid process whereby any qualified union contractor who will comply with the Davis Bacon Act may bid for the work. Selection is based on a variety of criteria including price, experience and contract terms and conditions.

Rothrock said that their union's state accredited apprentice program has set wage rates that are listed online and that Petrochem has never provided any proof of providing area standard wages.

"If they prove they are paying the average wage, that's fine," Rothrock said. "We represent the working class people and we just want to make sure they are getting paid. To date no evidence of compliance has been presented other than promissory statements, with no documentation to prove they pay 'Area Standard Wages'. Local 5 Heat and Frost will continue with its efforts and actions as permitted by the NLRB."

Bill Wright, president of Petrochem, said that they are union contractors and that first and overall, they have a national agreement with the US Steelworkers union. He said that it is a Davis Bacon project, which requires they pay Bacon Davis wages, and that the information on pay was provided to the owner of the project and Florida Light and Power.

"They're making allegations that are not correct," Wright said, adding that the dispute was about which union would work. "We work all over the country, we're headquartered in California, Vallejo and Long Beach, and we've never had this happen."

Wright said that Petrochem had filed for resolution with the National Labor Relations Board and they were hoping for a positive resolution to end the situation.

"We're hoping it ends amicably, he said, noting that there was no picketing on Wednesday.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013
Article comment by: Conserned Citizen

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@paublo Bling. What gives U the right to tell me or anyone else to go some where else to work. Maybe because you pay union dues. So who cares. A lot of good people are without work just because of theses unions. Tell the person that went to college to learn on how to work in this field. But can't because he does not belong to a union. He went to school with a promise that he would be able to work.

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Green

Lots an Lots of misinformation flowing, Labor Unions don't get backing of County Building Trades on jurisdictional issues, maybe we should change statements of "forced people not to work . i've been on pickets and always i had my choice to say so yes or no but again why would anyone assume petrochem is union. I tried to look up information on the Web, got nothing not even Petrochem Insulation is in control of situation for they answer to their corprerate owners at ASRC in Alaska and partners In Juno, Florida. Possible government involvement also with mixed stories from BLM offices Property lines, Maps that dont exsist but did at one time. police officers who must be banking on the OT and of course an Energy company that goes by another name that purchased other sites around blythe for pennies on the dollar just days after securement of Federal Projects. I and others would still like to know what does Petrochem pay,,, AREA WAGE STANDARDS??????where are these union employees coming from if not from the Local hirng halls since over 95% of Trades working at Genesis are from asscociated with the Local Building Trades so ask Petrochem do they belong to The Local building trades and if they are union company wheres their representatives why Genesis does all talking ??? why havn't anyone here of what thier wages are only company. why in Petrochems current contrc

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Article comment by: paublo bling

go to ehrenburg for the right to work.

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: Liz Tyler

I've know all about Petrochem. I know that they dont pay the correct wages and I am glad that Local 5 is doing something about it!

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: carlos peres

Im very concern about this petrochem insulation company I look at their wepsite under services it's show they do more then just insulation which means they will do anybody's work. uhh i'm a union member of IBEW we do not do other unions work we are not train to do other trades work. which means petrochem might be after everybody work. GOOD JOB LOCAL 5. keep up the good work in protecting your members wages. Shame on you petrochem.

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

And the fight is on. They will never stop fighting. They care not for their fellow union workers. It should be a right to work place. If you know how to do it then you can work. it's not, not like the old days. Workers have much more rights now. The unions are a thing of the past. But the bottom feeders need that money. They will find a way to stop this project from going forward, and in the end it will be scraped.

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Palermo

I have heard of Unions coming together in what is called a "Solidarity Picket", but have not seen this type of division between Unions. Is there a move in the works to de-certify one Union to vote in another Union? SEIU gained employee representation status within some public entities in the 1990's by pushing for a de-certification of one employee representative bargaining unit, with a vote for a "new" bargaining unit, in this case SEIU. Of course, this could backfire. You could get enough employees to cause a de-certification of one bargaining unit, but could end up with a totally different bargaining unit. IAMAW, IBEW, LIUNA. It must be tough in the Unionized workforce right now.

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