A Missouri corporation claims it owes a union nearly $300,000 in dues after it provided laborers for a construction project that it believed to be non-union.

Aura Contracting filed a lawsuit Oct. 29 in Madison County Circuit Court against Ledcor Construction, Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores.

Aura claims it agreed to provide certain excavation work, labor and materials for Ledcor, a general contractor in charge of building a new Wal-Mart at 6660 Godfrey Rd. in Godfrey.

Before hiring Aura for the job, Ledcor led the company to believe that the project was going to be a non-union job and that Ledcor would fight for Aura's right to have its non-union company perform services upon which the bid was based, according to the complaint.

"Ledcor's agent, Michael Keough, told Aura that 'If the job has to go union, we will get the union to pay the $290,000 extra cost for pension and benefits;' 'we will get it paid;' and 'we will get the union to pay the benefits constitutions as part of the deal," the suit states.

Only after it agreed to work on the project did Aura discover that Ledcor promised its union representative to use only union contractors and subcontractors on all parts of the project, the complaint says.

"Aura was thereby damaged in the amount of $290,000, which is the difference between the estimated cost of labor based on the representations and the actual cost of labor paid or owed to the union, including wages, pension and benefit contributions," the suit states.

Ledcor also breached its contract with Aura in other ways, the company claims.

For instance, Ledcor allegedly made it impossible for Aura to perform portions of its contract by parking construction vehicles on the site where Aura had to obtain its excavation fill materials; by demanding Aura provide labor to Ledcor and by demanding that Aura provide work outside the scope of its contract, according to the complaint.

"Ledcor required and demanded that Aura work in weather conditions that required Aura to work inefficiently, including in frozen and wet ground," the suit states. "Ledcor required and demanded that Aura's crews and equipment show up on days when crews could not work because of rain and ground conditions, but for which Aura had to pay men and equipment."

Value on the extra work equated to $177,427.99, but Ledcor still has not paid the money, the complaint says.

On Aug. 13, Ledcor terminated Aura's work on the project, making it impossible for the company to perform certain portions of its work, it claims.

"As a further and direct result of Ledcor's breach of contract as described above, Aura has further been damaged by Ledcor's conduct due to loss of production and increased production costs in the amount of $137,965 and resulting loss of profits on the rock item in the bid in the amount of approximately $43,856.98," the suit states.

Aura added Wal-Mart as a defendant because the store hired Ledcor to work for it, according to the complaint.

In addition to the money it says Ledcor owes it, Aura seeks punitive damages, interest, costs, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just. The company also claims a mechanic's lien on the Godfrey Road premises.

William T. Dowd of Dowd and Dowd in St. Louis will be representing it.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-1105.

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