ITHACA, N.Y. — About 50 protesters are outside a construction site on Ithaca’s West State Street Tuesday morning in a rally calling for higher pay for carpenters in the Ithaca area.

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The men held banners and signs criticizing McPherson Builders Inc., the contractor of a new renovation for HOLT Architects on the 600 block of West State Street, for reportedly not paying the standard wage for carpenters in the Ithaca area.

“We’re out here to protest the contractors not paying the area’s standard wages,” said Brian Noteboom, council representative for the Local 277 Union Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. “They don’t pay area standard wages to their carpenters.”

Noteboom didn’t define what an acceptable wage was — “you’d have to ask them what they’re paying” — but said that the union had reason to believe it was not high enough.

“We want to raise the standard for all carpenters … We don’t know what they’re making; we suspect what they’re making and it’s not the area standard — the area standard is a good wage, healthcare, retirement, annuity – and it’s not that.”

UPDATE: Noteboom clarified that the prevailing wage for carpenters in Tompkins County is $27.32 plus benefits, according to the NYS Department of Labor. Noteboom also noted that this was not a union issue, and that his group’s goal was to “increase the standard of living for all carpenters.”

The protesters arrived on scene around 7 a.m. and planned on being there throughout the morning.

Here are some more photos of the protests:

As previously reported by the Ithaca Voice, HOLT Architects are remodeling the space at 619 West State Street with a planned move-in date of March 2016.

The renovation is expected to cost $897,500, and McPherson Builders — the subject of Tuesday’s protest — is in charge of general construction. According to a news release, HOLT chose the West End location for its walk-ability and centralized location.

Ithacating reported that the building will be renovated into a net-zero energy structure for the 30-person architecture firm.

Proposed design rendering of HOLT’s new space

Noteboom, of the union, said the group did not have any specific demands but was calling for McPherson to “raise the standard for all carpenters … so they can have a family, have a house and retire in dignity.”

A call to McPherson was not immediately returned Tuesday morning.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.