To Protest Hiring of Nonunion Help, Union Hires Nonunion Pickets
Billy Raye, a 51-year-old unemployed bike courier, is looking for work. Fortunately for him, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is seeking paid demonstrators to march and chant in its current picket line outside the McPherson Building, an office complex here where the council says work is being done with nonunion labor.
« For a lot of our members, it’s really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else, » explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing. So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he’s grateful for the work, even though he’s not sure why he’s doing it. « I could care less, » he says. « I am being paid to march around and sound off. »
« Low Pay! Go away! » and « That Rat Gotta Go! » the union stand-ins chanted as other workers banged cow-bells and beat on a trio of empty plastic buckets. Eric Williams, a 70-year-old retiree who said he needs extra cash to buy groceries, wore a sign saying that Can-Am Contractors, a nonunion Maryland drywall and ceiling concern, « does not pay area standard wages & benefits. »
The target of the campaign is the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, which is opening new classrooms on the second floor of the McPherson Building, and is having renovations done, including dry-walling by Can-Am. « It is bizarre, » says Lynne Baker, a school spokeswoman, about the union’s hiring of nonunion picketers.