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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
    Cesar Chavez

    :: Thursday, July 17, 2008 ::

    Accounts clash on union, minorities - By Jane M. Von Bergen, Philadelphia Inquirer
    Coryell didn't attend the June 25 public hearing or respond to an Inquirer request for comment, nor did he attend sessions organized by the building trades on the issue. And his union was one of the few that refused to provide minority-participation statistics when asked to do so by City Council.

    A week after the hearing, Coryell did call reporters into a meeting July 1, where he complained about the women who had complained about him and defended his diversity efforts, saying the union unfairly takes the brunt of criticism that should really be directed at contractors.

    Contractors hire and pay the carpenters. "They have to help them more - make sure they get the training. The contractor has to be willing to have diversity and minorities - to bring them along," Coryell said.

    A reporter later received a letter, dated July 2, from a contractor criticizing the women's work.

    "Some of our men asked not to be partnered with them because they were 'slower and not pulling their own weight,' " unable to load bundles of insulation into buildings, wrote Edward J.F. Dougherty, an official at Tedco Insulation Co. in West Chester, where the women worked in 2006.

    Dougherty said that Mark Durkalac, a union official, asked him to write the letter shortly after the June 25 hearing. He said he doesn't normally write those kinds of letters and "wouldn't have written it if I wasn't asked," he said in an interview.

    Dougherty said the women were good workers who came on time and worked hard. They simply couldn't lift the bundles, so when he cut his crew from 30 to nine, they were laid off.

    In his letter, he wrote that he would not ask them back.

    "If a carpenter can't do the work, then it's 'See you later,' " Coryell said.

    A union-sponsored support group for women carpenters, Sisters in the Brotherhood, hasn't met for more than a year, said its current leader, Maureen Olivant.
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