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Carpenters union continues 'slam' on YMCA and drywall business

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April 10, 2012|By Brian Heap | Factfinder 12 Investigators

(WICHITA, Kan.) — Pass by the west YMCA on Central and it might catch your eye.

A sign reading "Shame on YMCA" and "Labor Dispute" is only the beginning.  The paid protesters who man the sign hand out flyers bashing the "Y" for "Desecration of the American way of life."

The Carpenters Local 201 is behind the rhetoric.  The union is angry about the business practices of a subcontractor hired to work on the downtown YMCA expansion.

In the flyer, the union accuses Drywall Systems Incorporated of being a "rat" and not paying all its employees "area standard wages" and full family health benefits.

"It's an attack on the non-union shops in the Wichita area," said Larry Higgins, president of Drywall Systems Inc.  "This is not just focused on me.  It is actually focused on several other shops.  They (union) of course picked on mine because the YMCA is a high profile job."

When he first started Drywall Systems in 1988 Higgins wasn't able to offer any benefits to workers.  Now he does.


Higgins is comfortable with how his company's wages compare to the market.  Drywall Systems offers a matching 401k and a Blue Cross health plan.  He's not aware of any labor dispute involving his employees.

"I know it's not true.  I know how I feel about my employees," said Higgins.

Eyewitness News has left four messages for Carpenters Local 201 over the past week.  The union has not responded or provided any supporting evidence for its claims.

Local carpenters union is protesting contractors working on the YMCA downtown building.
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