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Dry Wall Installers Walk Out in 3 Counties, Organizer Says

June 27, 1987|LESLIE BERKMAN | Times Staff Writer

About 500 independent residential dry wall installers--about one-fourth of their craft in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties--have walked off their jobs since Monday, according to the leader of a group that is urging the workers to strike for higher salaries and benefits.

Jose Valadez, president of the organizing committee, said Friday that most of the dry wall installers are Mexicans who entered the United States illegally and previously were reluctant to complain to their employers out of concern that they might be deported.

"Due to the new immigration law," Valadez said, "they are eligible for legal residency and are no longer afraid to go on strike."

Valadez was unable Friday to estimate the number of residential construction projects that have been halted so far as a result of the action, and no firm estimate of the impact of the walkout could be obtained from building industry officials.

Conditions in residential construction have deteriorated, Valadez said, since the union hold on the industry collapsed during the 1982 housing recession. He said some of the dry wall installers, including himself, favor the option of joining a union.

Jim Jones, financial secretary for Carpenters Local 2361 in Orange, said the local has agreed to give the dry wall workers requested advice and use of the union hall for meetings. He said he has also given them so-called authorization cards to sign.

"If they can get 50% of the employees of a (dry wall contracting) company to sign, we can petition the NLRB for an (organizing) election in the company," Jones said.

Valadez said organizers last Monday began driving from job to job in Orange County, recruiting followers. Next week, he said, the organizing effort will intensify in Riverside and San Diego counties.

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