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A group of non-union contractors will take another shot at the "Shame On" campaign that's been launched against businesses across Bakersfield. Associated Builders and Contractors says their new complaint was actually suggested by the National Labor Relations Board. Eyewitness News has investigated the Shame On campaign for more than a year. Dozens of local businesses have been targeted with banners or pickets.
On Thursday, ABC spokesman Kevin Korenthal told Eyewitness News the new complaint focuses on alleged Carpenters' Union actions at a Santa Barbara Business College construction site at 5300 California Avenue.
In February, Eyewitness News heard from a college project manager who said he had been roughed up by union reps. In March, the non-union contractors group filed a complaint about that with the NLRB.
But, ABC's Korenthal says the NLRB investigation found that assault complaint was too much of a "he said/he said" situation. However, the labor board found other information which seemed appropriate for a new complaint.
"In the course of their (NLRB) investigation, they found that there was probable cause to do further charges against the Carpenters' Union for blocked ingress and egress to the same property at an earlier time during the day," said Korenthal.
ABC says access was blocked by the union reps, and a witness saw a confrontation between the union men and the project contractor.
"The primary contractor, Steve Carlile, was actually harassed as he tried to enter the Santa Barbara Business College site to basically look after the scope of the work," says Korenthal.
Carlile was out of town on Thursday, by Eyewitness News contacted him by phone. "They were packed into a courtyard area," Carlile said about the union people. "Making it very hard and uncomfortable for anyone to get in."
At another Carpenter's Union picket in March, access to the building was also an issue. A heart doctors' office on the Truxtun Extension was the target of a large group of Carpenters' Union pickets.
The doctors' staff told Eyewitness News elderly heart patients were scared and upset by the noisy picketing -- right at the office entrance. Eventually, the office called Bakersfield Police, and officers did ask the picketers to move away from the entrance.
In addition to the NLRB complaint, ABC is taking another tactic to deal with the "Shame On" campaign. Korenthal says his organization has set up a meeting with concerned non-union contractors and the Bakersfield City Attorney and Chief of Police next week.
Korenthal says his group wants to ask questions and get clarifications about the city's policies on where and how unions actions can take place.
The Carpenters' Union picketers hold signs at the pickets complaining that "prevailing wages" are not being paid at the construction sites they target. Their large banners at other locations complain about unfair pay.
Contractors at the targeted businesses say these jobs do not require union pay.
Korenthal says the new NLRB complaint was filed earlier this week. They expect the labor board will get more statements and information on the complaint. They got a response to their original complaint after about two months, they hope NLRB's response to this second action will come faster.
Korenthal is hopeful the new complaint will convince the Carpenters' Union to change their ways.
"One of the main benefits that we hope to get out of this is the opportunity to show the citizens of Bakersfield that the Carpenters' Union and their activities have gotten out of hand," says Korenthal. "And ABC has been watching, and we're doing something about it."