UPDATE: Sunland Construction President Craig Meier called 7 News to respond to our earlier article on a protest held by members of Laborers Union Local 1149.
Meier says that Sunland Construction has been in business since 1974, and has worked on projects across the U.S. In the past three years, the company has moved into the Utica Shale region to work on projects. He believes the project which was the subject of the protest was one where the job was moving from Ohio into West Virginia.
According to Meier, Sunland Construction's Experience Modification Rate - a commonly used metric for determining contractor safety - has been "significantly better than the industry average." Meier says Sunland Construction "hires the most qualified individuals", and says his firm has hired "some local people, and some local subcontractors." He added the firm has also hired several local vendors.
When asked directly if his firm would talk with the unions involved in the protest, Meier responded, "We're going to do the work our client hired us to do, and do it safely."
Organized labor wants more work out of the shale gas boom.
Members of Laborers Union Local 1149, and several other unions, think Sunland Construction of Louisiana should give their members work on a pipeline project on this area. OSHA records provided by a union organizer suggest Sunland Construction has 14 total safety violations over the past ten years, including two fatalities on-the-job. They think union workers would create a safer work environment during construction.
Rob Richards, a union organizer with Local 1149, said concerning Sunland Construction, "They've been over in Ohio. Their OSHA records can speak for theirself. It's a very unsafe work area. And, we figured we'd reach out to the media first, trying to get some of that media attention."
Richards went on to say this protest marked their first step in a process to secure more work for union members.