The roughly 100 workers who walked off the Omni Louisville construction site Wednesday will return to work Friday.
Representatives of the non-union workers signed an agreement Thursday afternoon saying they are willing to return to work immediately and want to do so without fear of reprisal or retaliation. According to a document provided to Insider by the workers’ attorney, Dave Suetholz, PCC, the subcontractor that they work for on the more than $320 million Omni Louisville project, has agreed.
Insider reached out to PCC’s attorney, Tom Birchfield, of Fisher Phillips, to confirm the details of the letter but did not immediately hear back.
The workers previously said that PCC is paying them $20 less than the $40 to $45 an hour that other construction workers are earning. The workers took their concerns to general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie and then decided to walk off the job in protest Wednesday.
“They didn’t get paid yesterday. They didn’t get paid today. They have to support their families,” Suetholz told Insider. “They said we will go to work tomorrow, but we are not going to stop the fight.”
Suetholz added that he will meet with the workers Friday after work to talk about next steps and that many of the workers have signed authorization cards asking to be represented by the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and effectively join the union.
The workers have asked PCC and Brasfield & Gorrie to recognize the union’s right to represent them, he said, adding that it will give the workers additional resources to combat what they say is unfair wages.
“When they saw what the unions were about and the support they got, they are all in. They want to be a part of this movement,” Suetholz said.
Brasfield & Gorrie has stated that the workers are being paid the proper wages per the rates established before work began last year.
“I have absolutely zero evidence to suggest that the employees are not being paid what the subcontractors are required to be paid pursuant to the wage determination at that job,” said Jim Smith, a partner at Smith & Smith Attorneys who represents Brasfield & Gorrie.
Earlier Thursday morning, amid the regular noise of construction equipment were the chants of the workers who walked off the Omni Louisville construction site and people who came to support them.
“Sí, se puede,” they shouted, while holding up signs noting that they are on strike because of unfair labor practices.
Jobs with Justice‘s Kentucky chapter, Showing Up for Racial Justice and local Teamsters joined them for the second day of striking against what the workers, many of whom are Hispanic, say are unfair wages.
In a statement sent to the media, the Louisville Democratic Party backed the workers who walked off the site.
“Unjust treatment of workers on the Louisville Omni is a threat to workers throughout Louisville” Louisville Democratic Party chair Russell Lloyd said in the statement. “Louisville Democrats will join Labor in support of these striking workers. Republican policies hurt our middle class, our economy, and our City. We cannot have the Louisville we want and deserve by standing on the throats of those who build with us!”
Louisville Metro Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9) went down to the strike and tweeted that it was good to see strong support for the workers.
“This is a prevailing wage project,” he tweeted. “Let’s get it right.”