More than two dozen members of the Bricklayers & Allied Crafts Local 1 held banners and passed out fliers Friday on a sidewalk outside Pearlridge Center, a message of criticism directed toward the center's owner.
"We noticed a contractor doing some work, some preparation going down on the flooring. What we found out was that they were out of state and they were unlicensed," the union's business agent, Jeffrey Ornellas, said Friday.
Ornellas says he recently learned that the contractor, Prime Flooring LLC of Washington, was hired to remove the old tile and lay down new tile in Pearlridge Downtown as part of the center's $33 million renovation.
The state's Regulated Industries Complaints Office confirmed Prime Flooring LLC doesn't have a Hawaii contractor's license and that a complaint is being investigated.
"In the state of Hawaii, a contractor's license is required for any project where labor and materials is over $1,000," RICO compliance and enforcement officer Daria Loy-Goto said.
In a statement, Pearlridge general manager Fred Paine said the center "believes in and advocates for local jobs for local people."
"Only one non-local company was initially chosen for our renovation," he said. "They ceased working on the project, and we had engaged a local company to continue the work as of three weeks ago."
Ornellas said even though the mainland contractor is now off the job, it shouldn't be off the hook for violating state law.
"Personally, I think it's terrible," he said.
Because the case is pending, Loy-Goto can't comment on specifics, but said in other cases fines for breaking the licensing law have reached 40 percent of what a contract is worth.
"We really want the fine to be meaningful," she said. "The fine amount should really not just be the cost of doing business without a license in the state. It should hurt a little bit."
Sources estimate the Pearlridge flooring contract exceeds $1 million. Prime Flooring, LLC. did not return a call for comment.