Local 24 members join other trades to picket for CBA on Columbus Airport Project

Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 and other Columbus building trades held an informational picket on Feb. 27 at John Glenn International Airport.

The picket was organized after the Columbus Regional Airport Authority Board (CRAA) rejected signing a Community Benefits Agreement on the $2 billion terminal project. 

The goal of the picket was to raise community and worker awareness of the CRAA’s rejection of a CBA and the consequences not having an agreement will have on the Central Ohio community.

According to Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Columbus and Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, the building trades are still willing to negotiate a CBA and will not stop fighting for one. 

“We are going to have to ramp up the pressure,” Hager said. “Come to the table and agree with the building trades that a Community Benefits Agreement is good for everyone.”

Hensel Phelps, the out-of-state Construction Manager at-Risk (CMaR) selected for the project, has faced accusations of wage theft and manipulation of a federal subcontract designated for a business owned and operated by disabled veterans in previous projects across different states.

Hager is concerned that these prior issues and the reluctance to sign a CBA indicate Hensel Phelps may not be prioritizing the best interests of Central Ohio.

“They want to bring out-of-state contractors and out-of-state workers,” Hager said. “We don’t want that. We want workers from Columbus. We want workers from Franklin County. We want workers from Central Ohio building this keystone project.”

Without a CBA, many members of Local 24 may not get the chance to work on the megaproject. 

At the airport, Local 24 members held signs and stood next to multiple large inflatable rats to help attract attention and get their message across to the public. 

The proposed CBA would include local and diverse workforce goals and would guarantee equal rights, treatment and due process for construction workers of all races and genders. 

Hager said the C/COBCTC and Hensel Phelps spent seven months negotiating before the contractor walked away.

Working on a $2 billion project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Local 24 members and other residents of Central Ohio. Without a CBA, most will not get the chance.  

“Hensel Phelps and CRAA CEO Joe Nardone have made empty promises to our community about how workers will be paid and treated on the Columbus airport project,” Hager said. 

The trades will continue to wait for the Airport Board to step up and make an agreement that is fair for all, no matter their background or who they work for, that covers equal rights, equal treatment and due process on the job. 

The project is set to break ground sometime in the fourth quarter of 2024. Local 24 and other building trades intend to continue fighting for a CBA. 

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