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Michigan Contractor Lamar Construction Discontinues Operations, Terminating 180 Jobs

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Hudsonville, Mich.-based Lamar Construction, a 280-employee firm specializing in government, health-care and educational facilities, discontinued its construction operations in early July, resulting in 180 job losses.

A company statement issued on July 9 cited “current economic conditions” for the closure, which included operations in Colorado and Kentucky. Lamar indicated it would continue operation of its structural-steel division.

The company reported revenues of $151 million in 2013, $180.2 million in 2012 and $217.8 million in 2011.

It ranks at No. 355 on ENR's list of the Top 400 Contractors, although that was a drop from its No. 308 position in the 2013 ranking.

The firm reported 38% of its revenue in manufacturing, 32% in industrial and 30% in general building.

During the same period, striking former workers alleged that Lamar subjected them to discrimination, improper training, wage violations and unsafe working conditions. The workers, members of Workers Freedom Coalition (WFC), picketed Lamar jobsites, urging businesses to decline contracting with the firm. 

In a statement issued in July 2013, Lamar President Carl Blauwkamp alleged that WFC is “a front group for the Iron Workers Union [Local 340], a union which is paying former Lamar employees to launch a coercive campaign against Lamar because Lamar's employees are not interested in joining a union.”

In 2013, the state of Kentucky fined Lamar after concluding the company violated wage-theft laws statewide.

WFC contends the firm received at least 30 OSHA violations over the past six years, but a company manager said most were minor infractions, according to a 2012 published report in Michgan.

Workers did not receive advance notice of Lamar's intent to discontinue operations. Although some employees remained on hand to wind down project work, the majority concluded employment with the firm the day the closure was announced.  

Neither Blauwkam, Lamar Construction managers nor officials of Iron Workers Local 340 returned calls for comment.



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