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Union carpenters formed picket lines in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning to draw attention to stalled contract negotiations with Jacobsen Construction Co.

Negotiations between the construction company and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America are at an impasse, and a federal mediator has been asked to intervene.Pat Eyre, secretary of the union's district council, said the group's previous contract guaranteed union carpenters the concrete work on any particular job they were already working for the company. The contract proposal offered by the company would not guarantee concrete work to the union workers, Eyre said.

"It's a work issue, trying to keep jobs available for our members," Eyre said. "They would be able to pick and choose from job to job whether they will use my people or someone off the street," he said.

Harvey Wright, vice president of operations for Jacobsen Construction Co., would not comment on the negotiations.

"We've been negotiating with the carpenters since last September and we've not reached an agreement. A federal mediator is involved, and I don't feel I should make any other comments," Wright said.

The construction company gave the union until March 15 to accept its latest offer, Eyre said. The union refused.

"They forced our hand to do something," Eyre said. "Emotions are rising. It (the picket) is gaining momentum because of the high emotion of those involved."

The contract negotiations affect 40 to 150 workers, depending on the job, Eyre said. The union has a permit to picket through the end of March and may seek an extension if there is no progress in the contract talks, he said.

Eyre said the union helps the construction companies by providing qualified workers through a training and apprenticeship program. Further, he said, the union does not require that contractors hire full-time employees, which eliminates the company's cost of some benefits.