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Capital Business
Posted at 05:14 PM ET, 09/30/2011

Protesters to target CityCenter DC; Wings Enterprises responds


A worker guides a steel beam while working on the City CenterDC complex. Construction for the project began in March. (Matt McClain - The Washington Post)

Updated Tuesday 2:00 p.m.

Representatives from Wings Enterprises were not able to respond Friday when I first wrote about protests aimed at the firm, but the company’s president, Jean T. Wanner, issued a statement this afternoon (Oct. 4) calling the protest an extension of an “unjustified and malicious” campaign against the company that began more than two years ago.

“We treat our workers fairly, and they provide excellent work for our customers,” Wanner writes. “Despite claims to the contrary we pay prevailing wages and provide affordable health insurance and paid sick leave in accordance with D.C . law.”

Wanner said the company employs about 150 people and has been audited repeatedly by government oversight agencies. Regarding allegations that the company has not paid required wages in some circumstances, she said: “Any wage discrepancies have been promptly corrected when brought to our attention.”

Wanner suggests that the campaign to get her company barred from doing city work originated with a failed attempt by the local ironworkers union to organize Wings in 2009. She said only three of the company’s employees claim to currently be on strike.

See the full letter here.

The original post.

Protestors plan to bring attention Tuesday to what they call unsafe and unfair labor practices by Wings Enterprises, one of the subcontractors of the CityCenter DC project.

It isn’t the first time protestors have targeted Wings, an ironwork specialist. This time the effort is being led by DC Jobs With Justice — one of the groups asking Wal-Mart to make major concessions before opening D.C. stores — along with Salvadoran community leaders in support of Wings workers from El Salvador.

Mackenzie Baris, lead organizer for DC Jobs With Justice, said Wings consistently ignored safety regulations and pay requirements. “It seems like there are really kind of systemic things there,” she said. The protestors plan to make stops at both the CityCenter project and the offices of D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement in an effort to prevent the company from performing work on city-sponsored projects like CityCenter. In June, five members of the D.C. Council wrote the agency asking that the agency initiate proceedings to disbar Wings from D.C. government contracts.

Wings did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Doesn’t it appear as though local wage disagreements are increasingly moving to the front and center as the economy continues to sputter? Besides Wings, there is the dust-up over prevailing wages in D.C., Wal-Mart negotiations and concerns about the work at St. Elizabeths hospital.

By  |  05:14 PM ET, 09/30/2011

 
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