Community, Local, Park Forest, Recreation

Rats! Union Conflict Arises at Somonauk Park

inflatable rat sitting on grass tied down by ropes
The Cement Masons’ Union Local 502 placed two inflatable rats at the site of the new Somonauk Park pavilion. (Photo John Hudzik)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Work on the new pavilion in Somonauk Park hit a snag this week. Representatives of the Cement Masons Union Local No. 502 began to picket the work site. Two giant inflatable rats were at the site holding signs that read “On Strike for Area Standards Against YAD Const.”

The conflict stems from work underway on the cement foundation of the pavilion by contractor YAD Construction, based in Chicago.

On Strike sign secured to a metal post
The sign placed by the Cement Masons’ Union alleges improper action by YAD Construction, the contractor building the pavilion. (Photo John Hudzik)

Union Rats Because Claims that Prevailing Wage Rules Violated

According to Claudio Robles, an organizer for the Cement Masons Union, workers did not receive the prevailing wage as required by law. Robles said workers told him they received a flat $150 per day. He said they did not receive the currently approved wage of $50.75 per hour for a cement mason.

Robles noted that union membership for workers is not compulsory. Still, the contractor must pay the prevailing wage regardless of union affiliation.

When we visited the site Wednesday morning, no one was working on the pavilion. Two union representatives, in addition to Robles, were picketing at the location. There was also the formidable presence of the union rats.

cement foundation in a park area
Work on the new Somonauk Park pavilion is the subject of a union wage issue. (Photo John Hudzik)

YAD Construction States It Follows All Rules

eNews Park Forest contacted Yaw Dwomoh, the owner of YAD Construction, for comment. According to Dwomoh, the allegations the union makes are false. He said that his company does not pay a flat daily amount. Instead, it pays the prevailing wage of approximately $45 per hour, or about $100 per hour, with benefits. The issue, according to Dwomoh, is that YAD is not a union firm. Mr. Dwomoh alleged the union is using these tactics to force a union contract.

Dwomoh stated that he had contacted Kevin Adams, the Park Forest Director of Recreation, Parks & Community Health. He provided Mr. Adams with proof that his firm complies with all prevailing wage rules, he said.

When contacted for a response to Dwomoh’s claims, Robles stood by his original position as outlined above.

The Village is Aware of the Situation

eNews Park Forest reached out to Adams for comment. Per his response, the village is aware of the matter and expects to release an official statement by the end of the day, Friday, June 23. Adams stated that “the Village has clearly outlined that prevailing wage requirements as outlined by the Illinois Department of Labor, included in both the Request for Proposal as well as the signed independent contractor agreement, must be adhered (to) by the winning bidder.”

The pavilion is part of the renovation at the park. It is among the final pieces of the new Somonauk Nature Adventure Park. The anticipated opening is later this summer.