Union hires nonunion employees to protest contractor using nonunion labor

Victor Joecks

Hypocrisy, thy name art labor unions.

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.”

My favorite part: The union paid the nonunion picketers minimum wage. Oh, and it gets better. Here’s how the union tries to defend itself.

The union’s Mr. Garcia sees no conflict in a union that insists on union labor hiring nonunion people to protest the hiring of nonunion labor.

He says the pickets are not only about “union issues” but also about fair wages and benefits for American workers. By hiring the unemployed, “we are also giving back to the community a bit,” he says.

So this union thinks that the minimum wage is a fair wage? Good to know.

I think a principled union should pay its union employees to protest the first union hiring nonunion employees.

Any nominations for a principled union? Bueller? Bueller?