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  • admin
  • 09 September 2013

September 9, 2013

Press Release: Michigan carpenters, millwrights sue Woodhaven in fight over L.A. Fitness wages, worker exploitation

DETROIT – The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC) sued the City of Woodhaven after city police ordered MRCC representatives to remove a lawful banner informing the public that L.A. Fitness contractors in Woodhaven are failing to pay area standard wages and benefits to workers building a new facility.

On Aug. 15 and Aug. 27, Woodhaven police ordered MRCC representatives to remove the 14-foot-long banner, which simply read, “Labor dispute: Shame on L.A. Fitness.” The stationary banner was placed on a public easement. The peaceful display of the banner is protected by federal labor law and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the MRCC said.

“Our goal is to peacefully and lawfully inform the residents of Woodhaven that L.A. Fitness and the contractors it is using are not playing by the rules because workers building its new facility are not being paid carpenters area standard wages and benefits,” MRCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mike Jackson said. “At a time when people are concerned about income inequality and the squeezing of the average worker, it’s important to shine a light on businesses that are contributing to the race to the bottom. L.A. Fitness is a multi-million-dollar international conglomerate with enough money to make sure that all the employees of contractors building its facilities are paid decent wages and benefits so they can support their families and contribute to the Woodhaven economy.”

MRCC counsel David Radtke said: “We have made repeated attempts to communicate with the City of Woodhaven to work with them in good faith to resolve this issue, but they have ignored our efforts and prohibited the MRCC from exercising our rights under federal labor law and the First Amendment, leaving us with no choice but to take legal action. For the past three years the MRCC has used the banners in communities across Michigan without police interference. The MRCC and its members are ready to fight to make sure the Union’s voice for fair wages is heard.”

Under federal law, banners publicizing labor disputes must be stationary and placed on a public right-of-way without obstructing public access – all conditions the MRCC banner met. The banners are also protected by the U.S. Constitution. The MRCC’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit late Friday.

The L.A. Fitness location in Woodhaven is on West Road east of I-75. It is expected to open later this year. L.A. Fitness is based in Irvine, Calif., and has more than 500 locations in the United States and Canada. Because it is a private corporation, details of its operations often remain closely guarded secrets.