Jul 29, 2014
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Nearby: Labor Dispute Prompts Protest Outside Ross Park Mall

Carpenters group accuses the owner of Ross Park Mall of using a contractor who does not pay standard wages and benefits.

Nearby: Labor Dispute Prompts Protest Outside Ross Park Mall

For the past several weeks, a large banner with the words "Shame on Simon Property group” has greeted drivers at the south entrance of , just off McKnight Road.

Simon Properties operates the mall, but the dispute does not involve any current work being performed there.

Members of the  Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters accuse Simon Properties of hiring an independent contractor who does not pay area standard wages and benefits at another property in the South Hills.

" Cajota Contracting, LP is performing work on Simon Property Group, Inc.'s project at South Hills Village in Bethel Park," the group said in a statement. "Cajota Contracting, LP does not meet area labor standards for all of their carpenter craft workers, including fully paying for family health benefits and pension."

"This is totally ridiculous," said Rich Stumme, president and owner of Cajota Contracting. "This is just an attempt to get us to join the union, but we can't afford it. We are an open-shop company, because we can't afford the union costs. Their cost structure is 45-50 years old, it's antiquated."

The Carpenter's group said Simon Properties has an "obligation" to the community to see that area labor standards are met for construction work at all their projects. 

A spokesman for Simon Properties declined to comment.

"They should not be allowed to insulate themselves behind 'independent' contractors," the carpenters' statement said.

Stumme said the protest is also outdated because his company finished its work at South Hills Village six weeks ago. 

"The carpenters union just wants to put the little guys like me out of business, so all of the work goes to the big firms," he said. "Well I'm not going to play their game." 

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