The new Roseville fire station, years in the planning and months in litigation, encountered its latest controversy: Union protesters bannering a non-union sub-contractor on the project.
Representatives from Laborers Local 563 on Monday were picketing the project, contending sub-contractor Thompson Construction of Princeton Inc. is underming prevailing labor standards.
"They (Thompson) are taking work away from local guys," asserted Mike Connelly, president of Laborers Local 563. "He (Matt Thompson) will tell you he is paying fair wages."
But Connelly insisted the union has more comprehensive health and pension benefits not offered by Thompson. To prove his point, Connelly said six workers left Thompson's company last year to join union contractors.
The Thompson company was pouring footings on Monday on the fire station project and co-owner Matt Thompson defended his firm.
"We try to pay fair wages,'' he said, adding his company pays workers based on their experience and offers them bonuses.
Thompson stressed his company got the fire station contract after submitting the low bid for the work. "We were aggressive (in the bidding)," he said. "We are here to do a job and then move on to the next one."
Meanwhile, Roseville officials confirmed that Thompson's low bid was the determining factor in it winning the masonry work.
City Manager Bill Malinen noted, "I think we went through the bidding process. Everything was according to statute."
Low-bid is required "unless you're doing a best-value procurement, in which case you're allowed to deviate, but we're not doing that in this case," Malinen said.
Roseville Fire Marshal John Loftus agreed, explaining, "Being a government project we have to take low-bid."
City officials earlier this month broke ground on the new $9.2 million fire station and expect the project to be completed in about a year. It is being built north of City Hall on the site of a former fire station that was torn down because it was inadequate for current needs and had mold problems.
To find out more about the new Roseville fire station project, click on the following stories: