Local union workers protest hiring of out-of-state labor force for hotel project

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Local union construction workers are not happy with a new hotel project in Loves Park, which is employing out-of-state workers.

The new Home 2 Suites by Hilton is being built at Riverside Boulevard and Bell School Road, where local construction workers were protesting the project on Monday.

An out-of-state construction company from Indiana was hired for the project. Some of the local workers argue that hiring workers from out of the area hurts the community economically.

“We believe the taxpayer should know that their tax dollars are being spent outside their community,” picketer Jake Castanza, Executive Director of Project First Rate, said.

“We are out here to support local craftsman who are unemployed,” said Dan O’Connell, West Region Director of the Chicago Council of Carpenters. “Winnebago has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country, and we have workers coming in from out of state that are paying less than the area standard wages, and not allowing local people to work on the project.”

Carpenter Dan Smych said, “I want to get a job first, because I’m always looking, and they’re not going to hire union carpenters.”

The Home 2 Suites by Hilton project is estimated to cost $20-$30 million. The demonstrators say the chunk of the money that goes to worker salaries won’t be spent in the local area.

“It seems kind of bad to hire people that aren’t from the area, because when these guys have their paychecks, what do they spend it on? Do they spend it on things here, to improve our roads? No. Do they spend it on our entertainment? No,” said Smych.

Ultimately, the protestors say hiring out-of-state workers will harm the local economy.

Castanza said, “Making us that much less competitive and that much less wealthy, in the event that those dollars are being spent in local businesses, small businesses, and such. So, what we are trying to do is stop the outsourcing of these construction projects.”

The project should be finished by the Spring of 2019.

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