Dozens of union members picketed Larry H. Miller Chevrolet Friday to protest the use of out-of-state contractors, workers and suppliers in the construction of the Utah Jazz's new arena.
"The whole idea of being here today was we've made every effort to contact Mr. Miller and he hasn't talked to us so we came down to his place. But I understand he's in Japan today," said Steve Richins, secretary/trea-surer of the Utah Building and Construction Trades Council. Miller is in Tokyo with the Utah Jazz for a pair of games against the Phoenix Suns, the team's season opener."He's (Miller) tried to make it a union/non-union issue and it's not that. Our only complaint is the (use of) out-of-state workers," he said. Union officials estimate 100 to 150 workers of the 250 employed at the site are from out-of-state.
"That's not true. All of the subcontractors are local and the general contractor is a joint venture between Ohbayashi (Construction of Japan) and Sahara Construction, which is local," said Clark Whitworth, chief financial officer of Miller's auto conglomerate. "I have the numbers right here in front of me. The out-of-state numbers are less than 10 percent."
Richins said the union had attempted to meet with the Jazz owner on several occasions to discuss their concerns but he had not returned their telephone calls or letters.
Whitworth said he was confused by Friday's demonstration because Miller has said on several occasions that he wants Utahns to work on the $66 million project.
"Larry is so pro-Utah. I can't think of a man who's more pro-Utah, having been in on all the conversations (about the project) with him. He's insisted on keeping it in Utah," Whitworth said. "I'd put it up against any construction project in the state."
Union officials have been attempting to meet with Miller for 18 months but have been unsuccessful in scheduling a meeting with him. "When the project was announced, we offered some help on the funding of the new arena with union pension monies, but there was no response to that either," Richins said.