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Carpenters union expands protests to Atascadero Mutual Water Co.

The carpenters union that is picketing several local businesses for what it says are unfair labor practices expanded its protest to include the Atascadero Mutual Water Co. early this year.

Camarillo-based Carpenters Local 150 is protesting Paso Robles’ Drywall Dynamics and any businesses associated with them, according to a letter sent to water company general manager John Neil.

JW Design & Construction of San Luis Obispo used the drywall company as a sub-contractor to build replacement buildings at Atascadero Mutual Water Co.’s property at 6575 Sycamore Road. Building construction began in August and is now complete.

In a letter dated Jan. 19, the carpenters’ union said it planned to roll out an “aggressive public information campaign” against several drywall companies it’s disputing, which would affect all parties associated with projects where they are or have been employed.

Neil responded to the union’s letter on Jan. 22, but “the only response we received from the union was them showing up to picket,” he said.

“No response to my letter. No phone calls. Nothing.”

The union didn’t return calls from The Tribune.

The picket, which involves people holding a protest banner, began Jan. 25.

The union alleges that the contractor doesn’t meet “area labor standards” on wage, healthcare and pension issues.

Neil asked for more specifics and clarifications on those allegations, he said, but they have not responded.

Without it, “I don’t have the information I need to make an informed decision regarding the legitimacy of their complaint,” Neil said.

Three or so picketers stand with a banner at the water company’s headquarters at 5005 El Camino Real.

Carpenters Local 150 has conducted similar banner protests in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria regarding nonunion labor disputes. Each alleges wrongdoing with nonunion construction contractors and has picketers standing with banners for months at a time.

At least some of the picketers in the South County locations are not with the carpenter’s union. Neil said he has asked if the Atascadero picketers are also nonunion workers, but that “they won’t say.”

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