The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 684 and Collins Electrical Co. Inc. looked for 80 to 120 electricians to work on wiring at a Patterson fulfillment center for Amazon.com Inc during an open house at the Hammon Senior Center, 1033 W. Las Palmas Ave., on Monday, Feb. 25, and Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Business Manager Billy Powell of Local 684 drew a contrast between the open house and protests by Carpenters Local Union 152 on Feb. 13 and 19 that featured a giant papier-mache angel of death in front of Patterson City Hall.
“With the carpenters out there doing their rogue activities, we’re trying to show some positive things out there rather than having a big grim reaper,” Powell said.
Bobby Stutzman, an organizer for Local 684, said the union was boosting the local area by looking for electricians within it.
“We came out to show support the last two days,” he said. “The IBEW is really big into being local and showing we support the area we work and live in.”
The union and Collins Electrical sought state-certified electricians, registered trainees and would-be apprentices to work on the Amazon building and other projects.
Powell said Patterson was a natural place to recruit, given the 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center Amazon.com Inc. is having built off Sperry Avenue and Park Center Drive. He said the union is looking to expand its membership.
Chris Riley, general superintendent at Collins Electrical, said his company also hoped the open house would attract new blood.
“We’re looking for some new guys that want to get into the trade,” he said.
Fewer than two-sdozen applicants actually put in applications at the event and applicants were reticent to talk to the media about applying for new jobs for fear of losing their current employment.
Walls of the Amazon.com center are in the process of being erected by Big-D Construction of Pleasanton off Sperry Avenue and Park Center Drive. The distribution hub, which will package and distribute products that the Seattle-based retailer sells online, is slated to open this summer.
Representatives of Martinez-based Carpenters Local Union 152 passed out fliers in front of Patterson City Hall on Feb. 13 and 19 in protest of Amazon’s use of construction workers from Nevada-based Tedesco rather than carpenters union members from California.
The union has a Manteca office and represents a portion of Northern California that includes Stanislaus County.
Fliers distributed by Local 152 urged city leaders not to commit to a sales tax-sharing agreement with Amazon.com regarding its Patterson center.
The city has not formally discussed doing so, but several cities with Amazon fulfillment centers, including Tracy, have such agreements in place.
Scott Littlehale, a spokesman for Local 152, said this week that the union had hoped highly skilled local workers would be used for all Amazon’s construction projects.
He described the grim reaper as “a symbol of the depth of our concern that we don’t sell out the future of our community.”
Powell, of the electricians union local, stated in a Feb. 21 letter to the editor that several local contractors were working on the Amazon construction, and in other cases, contractors from outside the area had hired local tradesmen.
• Irrigator reporter Nick Rappley contributed to this report.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org.