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Dust Bowl expansion project draws protest from carpenters union
Dust Bowl protest pic
Visitors to downtown Turlock on Friday were met with a giant grim reaper as part of a protest against the hiring practices of Huff Construction, which was contracted to build the upcoming expansion for Dust Bowl Brewery. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

A haunting presence cropped up outside of Dust Bowl Brewing Company’s downtown taproom on Friday as the Carpenters Local Union 152 constructed an enormous grim reaper to publicize opposition to the company’s decision to use Huff Construction for its expansion project.

Dust Bowl is building a 30,000 square foot brewery and operations building on the westside of Highway 99 at the intersection of Fulkerth Road and Dianne Drive to house the company’s brewing, bottling, storage, shipping and business operations. Dust Bowl indicated at a 2014 Planning Commission meeting that it would begin construction in March with a November opening planned.

Along with the ghostly grim reaper, the protestors also erected a large “thumbs-down” hand and handed out flyers that read: “Community Beware! Dust Bowl Brewing Co is expanding their brewery and has not required Huff Construction and all of its sub-contractors to pay carpenter area standard wages and benefits on all jobs, all the time.”

On Friday the company released the following statement:

“Today a protest was displayed in front of our tap room implying that our brewery expansion will hurt the local economy because we have not required our general contractor, Huff Construction, based locally in Modesto, to use only union labor. We want the community to know that the protesters have no affiliation with Dust Bowl Brewing Company or Huff Construction. Huff Construction considers both union and non-union companies for sub-contract bids. We continue to be excited for this project and the positive, sustaining impact it will have on our local economy and community bringing jobs, commerce and enhanced culture.”

The protestors were not willing to comment and the union did not respond to attempts for an interview by the time this story went to press.