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Union leader's allegation rebutted



Published: Sat, September 1, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Two companies bid on the job, one of which uses union labor.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- The president of a company is rebutting contentions by a union leader that organized labor wasn't given a fair chance of landing jobs on an expansion project.

Herbert Schuler Sr., president of General Extrusions Inc. of Boardman, said earlier this week that his company reviewed bids from two businesses seeking the contract to install machinery in a $15 million plant that GEI is building in Leetonia.

One of the businesses that bid was a company that uses union labor, but the other does not, Schuler explained.

When the bids were examined, GEI determined that the nonunion company had submitted the lowest and best bid, so it was hired for the job, he added.

What's behind this: Schuler was responding to complaints made Wednesday before Columbiana County commissioners by Don Crane, a representative of Millwright Local Union No. 1871.

Crane told commissioners that union contractors weren't given a fair opportunity to bid for jobs installing machinery at the GEI building.

Columbiana County issued industrial revenue bonds to fund about $10 million of the project.

The government-backed bonds help spark economic development by enabling companies to borrow money at an interest rate that's lower than it would be on a conventional loan.

But in receiving industrial revenue bonds, GEI is required to pay laborers a "prevailing wage."

Prevailing wage is based on the amount union workers are typically paid for certain work.

Requirement: Schuler said his company is abiding by the prevailing-wage requirement. But that requirement does not compel companies to hire union members, he noted.

Crane has acknowledged that GEI used union labor in building the plant itself and that his complaint deals with machinery installation.

GEI hopes to open the 92,000-square-foot facility by December. About 65 jobs could be created there within three years.

The plant will fashion aluminum into shapes used by manufacturers in various industries.

It's being constructed in the Columbiana County Port Authority's World Trade Park along state Route 344.




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