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Menards, union reach agreement in Ohio

Following a 14-day protest by the Ohio & Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters, Menards Stores agreed to allow union workers from the group to complete remaining work on a new southern Ohio store.

The protest included the appearance of a giant inflatable rat, a familiar sight nationwide at similar protests made by members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. The group said the use of out-of-state, non-union contractors was cause for concern at the site, and it received concessions which could change how Menards bids construction projects for its stores state-wide.

Menards spokesman Jeff Abbott told Home Channel News that Menards “made a decision to bid the interior fixture package to union members."

As for future state projects, Abbott said, “We will be given a list of additional Ohio union general contractors who will have an opportunity to qualify for the bid process on future new construction projects within the state. We will continue to accept bids from both union and non-union general contractors for these projects."

He added, “We understand that the bid process is often highly competitive and are concerned about issues surrounding any job site including Chillicothe. Our focus remains on creating employment opportunities and economic growth, providing the best in home improvement materials and supplies for homeowners, tenants and business owners.”

The Ohio group confirmed Menards has agreed “to contact the Carpenters Union in advance of all future stores to be built in the state of Ohio for area local contractors to bid future store projects.” The group also said Menards had pledged to commit “all remaining carpenter work … that had not been previously contracted to the carpenters,” at the Chillicothe store to union members, which includes shelving, store fixtures, display and casework.

The carpenters group added that its members were joined by other unions in the protest, including local members of the Paper Workers, Teamsters, Food and Commercial Workers and other building trades.

The Chillicothe store is set to open in late winter 2009.

Menards is expanding at several sites in Ohio, the most easterly state served by the Midwestern home improvement retailer. The company has expanded its presence in the Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, areas; and Menards also announced a new store for the Cincinnati suburbs.

Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards currently has stores in 11 states: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and North Dakota. The company also is planning to enter Wyoming with its first store in the city of Casper later this year.

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