Workers hold protest at construction site

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(Host) Demonstrators gathered at a Hampton Inn construction site in Bennington on Thursday. They say the hotel’s general contractor has failed to pay wages owed to at least a dozen immigrant workers.

VPR’s Susan Keese reports:

(Keese) The workers say they came from California to Vermont because they were promised high wage work. But after several weeks on the job, they say they haven’t been paid. Several say they were fired and locked out of their lodgings when they complained.

The workers filed a complaint last week in Federal Court in Burlington against the contractor, the Barrett Company of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

(Haslam) “So what we’re here to do today is to demand that the workers are paid immediately.”

(Keese) James Haslam is with the Vermont Workers Center-Jobs for Justice, one of the protest organizers. Followed by labor advocates and local citizens, he presented letters to representatives of Barrett and the Hilton Corporation, which owns Hampton Inns.

The letters asked the companies to establish Responsible Contractor Agreements with the state of Vermont.

(Haslam) “So that this does not happen again. They have an obligation to the community and to the people that build their buildings that they pay fair wages and they have safe working conditions.”

(Keese) Barrett Company site superintendent Mick McGuire responded to the group that his company never hired the workers. He said they were the responsibility of a sub-contractor.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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