Union workers protest at Costco construction site

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After months of planning, work for the new Costco grocery store is underway. Iron and concrete grow in a field off I-69, not far from busy Burkhardt Road.

Frustration in dozens of local workers is growing too, and some are raising a red flag.

The Promenade on Evansville’s east side is considered a gateway to the city by some, but there are people who feel locked out. Local workers want a bigger role in building the new shopping district.

Two unions started a protest Monday and they don’t plan to back down.

“We want to have a decent job with decent wages,” said Tom Vukovich, spokesman for Operating Engineers Local 181.

His trade runs heavy equipment; often utilized in raising iron beams and setting the skeleton for mega structures. Picket signs are Monday’s tools for dozens at the protest.

Shawn Russell, spokesman for Iron Workers Local 103, stands with fellow workers. He’s demanding a contract to help build Costco.

“When I look at that building over there, I see jobs for 15 or 20 local men or women that supports their families in this area,” Russell said.

The unions say Span Construction from California brought out-of-state workers to do part of the job. Vukovich says Span is a sub-contractor on the project, tasked with setting iron beams.

“These people out here are from 2,500 miles away doing a job that our guys over here can do,” Vukovich said.

Russell says it brings down the standard of living for people who do construction work in the area. “We’re out here to support local men and women, local families, that’s all that really matters to us,” he said.

Eyewitness News left a message with Span, but the project manager didn’t return the call.

Vukovich plans to continue the picket for as long as it takes to sign a contract with Span and put local people to work. As of Monday afternoon, he hadn’t talked to Span.

There is plenty of room on the north end of Cross Pointe Boulevard, and these workers want a chance to take root, help their local gateway grow, and earn some green in the process.

“We’re standing up for our work,” said Vukovich.

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(This story was originally published on December 10, 2018)

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