Construction workers rally for unpaid wages

Posted at 8:21 PM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 13:40:02-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Construction workers and Metro Council Members gathered at the steps of the Historic Metro Courthouse Tuesday night, denouncing what they call "legal attacks" made by general contractor Skanska.

Workers who helped build the J.W. Marriott in downtown Nashville are part of an ongoing labor dispute against two drywall subcontractors hired by Skanska, a company currently building the Fifth + Broadway development downtown. At least one hundred workers say they are still owed two weeks worth of pay.

Advocates say a group of affected workers and community supporters visited Skanska's offices in December, and were promised a follow up meeting.

But days later, advocates say names of some of the workers appeared in counter-lawsuit against their original mechanic's liens claims.

"We believe that in our city all workers deserve good working conditions and it is our duty to ensure that their rights are upheld, protected, and that we in this city start creating more and more enforcement mechanisms to do exactly that," said Metro Council member Fabian Bedne.

Cesar Ramirez, an affected J.W. Marriott worker, said: "We won't stop until justice is made here, we feel betrayed that after giving [Skanska regional Vice President Dennis Georgatos] the benefit of the doubt, and believing that Skanska truly wanted a positive resolution, what we got in return, was one more attack in court."

Workers and community supporters are demanding back pay from Skanska, and for the company to drop their counter-suit.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to Skanska and recieved the following response.

Skanska’s counterclaim is in response to the lawsuit filed against Skanska and the property owner by the workers. Skanska’s counterclaim is based on the belief that a significant portion of the lien amount claimed by the workers was not filed in accordance with the lien laws and is therefore invalid. By necessity under the legal process, Skanska was required to answer the complaint and assert the counter-claim stating the exaggeration of the aggregate lien amount. Skanska’s counterclaim is not retaliatory and has been mischaracterized. Skanska is committed to the timely payment and safe work conditions for all workers, subcontractors and those individuals working on the project site. To date, Skanska has assisted in ensuring that 74 FCI workers have been paid in full. Skanska has also made offers to the remaining workers based on substantiated hours worked and even included an amount to help cover the fees of the workers’ attorney. Unfortunately, for reasons that the workers’ attorney has not disclosed, the offers were not accepted, and no counteroffer has been made. Skanska continues to pursue a complete and quick resolution.