The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 06, 2006

New Wal-Mart meets resistance from Flint area trades

By The Building Tradesman

Wal-Mart's latest foray into construction of a new store in Michigan is meeting with a resounding thud in Vienna Twp., north of Flint area.

The huge retailer is just coming out of the ground with a new supercenter at M-57 and Linden Rd., and only two or three union trades are represented on the project. The use of out-of-area labor and the payment of substandard wages and benefits brought scores of protesters to the job site during three days of picketing, Dec. 19-21, in an effort sponsored by the Flint Area Building Trades.

"We were very pleased with the turnout," said Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 370 Market Recovery Agent Ben Ranger, who sits on the Vienna Twp. Planning Commission. "There were not only building trades people out there, we had UAW members, United Food and Commercial Workers and a number of local politicians alongside us."

One of the local politicians who joined the protest was Vienna Twp. Supervisor Tony McKerchie. He and Ranger said throughout the planning process, Wal-Mart pledged to use local union labor - and then backed off when the time came to put shovels in the dirt.

"One of the reasons I supported the project in the first place is that Wal-Mart said all along that they were going to use local union labor," McKerchie said. "Then they didn't live up to their agreement. That upset me a lot. I totally support what these guys are doing out here."

Ranger said the construction of the Wal-Mart is the start of a major development on the site, which will include a Menard's, a strip mall and restaurants.

"There's a significant amount of work out there, and we're not going away, we're going to be regulars out there," Ranger said. "This is part of a long battle."

ATTENDEES AT THE "Local Jobs for Local People" rally at the Vienna Twp. Wal-Mart site.
Photos by Moments To Remember Photogaphy