Economics

Non-Union Picketers Picketing the Hiring of Non-Union Workers

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From the Wall Street Journal, the rich advantages to civil society of high unemployment: picketing and demonstrating on the cheap.

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. [One hired picketer] 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."

Protest organizers and advocacy groups are reaping an unexpected benefit from continued high joblessness. With the national unemployment rate currently at 9.5%, an "endless supply" of the out-of-work, as well as retirees seeking extra income, are lining up to be paid demonstrators, says George Eisner, the union's director of organization. Extra feet help the union staff about 150 picket lines in the District of Columbia and Baltimore each day.

Online postings recruit paid activists for everything from stopping offshore drilling to defending the Constitution…..

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.

Not entirely certain from the reporting whether it's true that this is a unique situation in a time of high joblessness–I'd be surprised if it is–but even unions recognize that union workers are sometimes just too pricey for the job.

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  1. This is awesome. Ima hire me some protesters to march around in the front yard and protest the weather. That’ll learn Mother Nature…

  2. Union bosses hiring workers for minimum wage: giving back to the community.

    Walmart hiring workers for minimum wage: rank exploitation.

    Leaving aside the better job security that Walmart employees have, of course.

    1. Plus, Wal-Mart is air-conditioned.

    2. And Wal-Mart provides benefits – something I’m pretty damn sure these rent-a-protestors aren’t getting.

  3. Proving, once again, that union bosses are some of the biggest fuckheads in the entire world.

  4. All right, who’s going to volunteer to go down to the McPherson building and organize these non-union picketers and form a Picketer’s Union?

    1. Fight fire with fire.

    2. All ready working on it.

      Except I’m following Jesse Jackson’s model.

      I hire cheap labor to picket the picketers, then offer the union I’m embarassing “peace” in exchanger for a “small donation”.

  5. Aw hell, why not? You can hire funeral mourners, wedding and party guests, even friends so why not protesters and picketers. Everyone’s for hire.

    1. Ah, but what happens when picketers unionize? Then every union protest that hires non-union picketers will itself be picketed by the picketer union. Indeed, one could imagine an infinite series of pickets each being picketed by the next group of picketers as far as the eye can see.

    2. The unions lack the courage of their convictions. That’s called being a hypocrite.

      1. “expediency” =/= “courage” OR “convictions”

        they want higher wages for themselves. everyone else can go to hell, unless by banding with other unions they can get even higher wages.

  6. It’s like a chicken working the register at KFC.

    1. THAT WOULD BE AWESOME

      1. YES

    2. Kentucky Fried Cannibals has a nice ring to it.

  7. Yawn, this has been happening in California for 20 + years. They pack them in school buses, off load, and turn them loose to make fools of themselves. Often breaking doors, windows, etc. in their efforts to scare the crap out of surrounding businesses. All the while our boys in blue stand by as the union business agent reads him the law that says this is all legal. BTW, the boys in blue are union guys too! So are the guys at the NLRB when you file a complaint! Great system eh!

  8. Has anyone checked these picketers’ I-9’s?

  9. So, they’re hiring a bunch of people at minimum wage to protest for higher wages for union employees, who make multiples of that hourly rate. That’s consistent…

  10. If they were right-wing groups, that would be called astroturfing.

  11. You’re all much to harsh on unions without fully understanding the benefits of having them. Read the study quoted as being the basis for the prior article on “Do Free Markets Lead to Fairer Wages?” here on Reason

  12. I wonder what the benefits are? $8.25/hr. and what about Unemployment, FICA, State and Federal taxes, NYS SDI, 401K (or defined benefit pension as the Union workers have), Disability (short and long term) and other benefits are DUE to these workers!

    After all, what is the Union all about!Quick, set up another picket line! They need the protection of a Collective Bargaining Agent! Call the NLRB, we need an election!

    Hypocrite is too mild a term for them!

  13. So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage?$8.25 an hour?to walk picket lines. [One hired picketer] 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.”

    Neu Mejican/Chad/Tony would contend that the Union did not give all the information to the non-Union worker-protester, and so the free-market is at fault.

  14. He says the pickets are not only about “union issues” but also about fair wages and benefits for American workers.

    And so the Unions find minimum wage to be a “fair” wage level for a non-Union picketer.

    Oh, such exploitation.

    “I could care less,” he says. “I am being paid to march around and sound off.”

    Must be because he does not have total information – he does not know how much other picketers make in the world in order to help him negotiate his wage with the Union bosses, who are always open and fair as a matter of routine . . . right?

  15. Bill Handel, radio guy in LA, did an interview a while back with one of those sign jugglers who stand at a busy intersection, dressed up in bear costume or a Lady Liberty gown. The guest said he made good money at it. There’s a quality component to curb-side advocacy, and like anything else, you pretty much get what you pay for.

  16. This has been happening for years. I alerted the Post to this in 2007 and they wrote a front page story on it a few weeks later:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..02011.html

  17. “I could care less,”

    Your total amount of care is such that you could have less of it? So you do care? A little or a lot?

  18. I like that! Your post inspires me very much. Good Luck to you!

  19. If I’m the organization being picketed I would let this go on indefinitely. It is clear the union members don’t feel strongly enough to get out there themselves, so why not let them use up all their union dues paying others to protest for them? This would make me far less likely to negotiate. I hope it bites these hypocrites in the ass.

  20. By hiring the unemployed, “we are also giving back to the community a bit,” he says.

    So am I when I hire non-union workers to staff my film crews.

    See how that works?

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