Wages protested

A group arguing for better wages is picketing the downtown Hyatt Regency Lexington as it undergoes renovations.

Holding up signs that read “Honk for fair wages,” the picketers argue that International Hospitality Services Inc., the contractor renovating the hotel, is not abiding by Lexington's area standards. That's a series of locally monitored conditions for construction workers, including wage rates, overtime stipulations, fair grievance procedures and medical benefits.

The group of about 20 protesters was organized by the Indiana/Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

The picketers are union workers, retired construction workers and volunteers.

“We're hoping to make the public more aware that this is a problem for the industry and for the workers that have chosen this line of work,” said Larry Hujo, a representative of the council. “We're not asking that they get rich, just that they have a modest quality of life. So they and their families are doing more than just surviving.”

The group is staging 18 protests around the state, Hujo said, including two others in Lexington, at Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky.

Greg Dessert, vice president of operations for Florida-based International Hospitality Services, said his company bid the job out to local contractors and does not set wages for the local workers.

He declined to name the subcontractor.

He said his company pays its own workers, some of whom are also at the site, “very well.”

The protesters plan to keep picketing until the construction is complete.