Labor disputes not as simple as they seem

In the recent article regarding the protests against K2MG Interiors Inc. at Whole Foods ["Chain Reaction," WW, Aug. 19, 2009], we wish Willamette Week had contacted us so we could have provided our perspective on the claims made by the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

In the article, the PNRCC claimed that they have a "labor dispute" with K2MG Interiors Inc. This is misleading: "labor dispute" is generally understood as an action taken against a company by its employees or their union. K2MG Interiors Inc. is a family-owned business that has been operating out of Newberg since 1991. Our company is an open merit shop—we believe our responsibility is to provide fair compensation for good work; our employees are responsible for performing satisfactorily.

If non-unionized contractors are forced out of the market by the aggressive protests of the union, this will drastically reduce healthy competition in the market, increase construction costs, and ultimately dull the vibrancy of small- and medium-sized contractors' participation in the market.

It is worth noting that no union drywall contractor bid on the job currently filled by K2MG on the Whole Foods build. (SD Deacon, the general contractor, does not discriminate between union and nonunion companies, and there are union outfits in other trades working on the Whole Foods project.) This fact in itself should demonstrate that nonunion shops like K2MG are indeed filling a vital and dynamic role in the construction industry.

We hope this letter clears up some of the misleading statements and misperceptions of K2MG promoted by the Willamette Week article, as well as provide further background on the protests at the Whole Foods location. In the future, we encourage you to contact us or the Association of Builders and Contractors for a broader perspective on the complexities of labor disagreements in our construction sector.

Tina Slogowski
K2MG Interiors Inc.