Local unions protest new Aldi construction

By Beau Ebenezer

October 6, 2012 Updated Oct 8, 2012 at 10:05 AM CDT

PEORIA Ill -- The construction of a new grocery store in Peoria might bring many goods to the area, but is it bringing more jobs for local workers?

A brand new Aldi grocery store is now under construction off North University Street in Peoria.

The new shop will replace two longtime local locations.

The one on War Memorial Drive has already closed and another on Sterling is set to follow suit.

"We're getting contractors that are coming out of state that They're basically taking our work,' said Union Business Representative, Gene Sanders.

Now, controversy swarms construction of the new store.

"They are taking the money that's here in Central Illinois and Peoria back to Iowa, and back to Kewanee, and robbing our members of the money from putting food on the table," said Sanders

Aldi executives confirm the company has hired contract workers from Fort Madison, Iowa and other areas outside Peoria.

Local union heads say it's disappointing, and reminds them of a similar fight surrounding the construction the Culver's restaurant on University.

"These people are trying to feed their families. That's what we are asking for. Keep it at the local level so we, as well as our kids and our grandkids, have a future in this community," said Electrician Dave Ramsay.

Aldi executives Saturday defended the move.

The company's Dwight Division Vice President, Heather Moore released a statement saying:

"The contractor for the new Peoria store has allowed for both Union and non-Union trades to place bids on the business. Aldi in fact, does have numerous trades represented by union contractors at our construction sites across the Unites States."

But workers say they want to this location's contractors to stay local, adding they are not ready to give up.

"We want to put local people on this job tomorrow or Monday. We still believe that at this stage in the construction that our local contractors can come in and take over this job that's behind several weeks already," said Laborers Local 165 Secretary Treasurer Matt Bartolo.

The new location is slated to open at the end of December 2012.

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