Washington, D.C., and Baltimore-area labor unions and advocacy groups are asking LA Fitness to intervene in a labor dispute between workers and a subcontractor at the health club chain’s Laurel construction site.
The group, a coalition that includes Iron Workers Union Local 16 and Casa De Maryland among others, calls itself the V.O.I.C.E. Coalition and says its speaking on behalf of laborers on the site. The group contends that about a half dozen workers at the site in the Laurel Shopping Center, working under a subcontractor Baltimore-based Winkler’s Inc., have faced adverse working conditions, including no breaks and a lack of safety equipment, among other complaints.
About 20 members of the coalition, including laborers who worked for the company, took to the shopping center and Route 1 Friday to protest conditions on the site. They said they want LA Fitness and Winkler’s Inc. to acknowledge their concerns.
“We expect some kind of response,” said Enrique Reyna, an organizer for the coalition, which stands for Victory Over Injustice for Concerned Employees. “We don’t want to be left out on the streets.”
Calls to the LA Fitness corporate office in and to Winkler’s Inc., were not immediately returned.
Reyna said there have been issues with Winkler’s at the Laurel site and other projects. He said some workers have been walking off the job since early 2011. Workers for the contractor are not unionized and have no collecting bargaining agreement and are unable to strike. Workers are left with few options to protest, other than walking off the work site.
Robert Shortt, 33, said he walked off a Winkler’s construction site in January 2011 after working as a welder because he felt he was being treated unfairly. He’s been out of work ever since but came to the protest on Friday to show support.
“It’s been an ongoing thing,” he said.
The Laurel LA Fitness site is currently under construction and is slated to open in the fall. The company has hired various contractors to complete construction.
“They should care about the people they do business with and treat their people fairly,” Reyna said.