Carpenters’ Union Outsources Picket Lines


In this video, one union boss oversees a picket line of homeless and transients the union hired to do work the union’s members won’t do themselves. When a reporter tries to ask the picketers questions, they say that they will be fired if they talked to him. The union boss remains tight lipped too.A few notes to complement this video…

Shopfloor’s Carter Wood did some research on how old this story is and poses the question: “The federal minimum wage went up yesterday. Did the carpenters give their homeless picketers a raise?”

Other mentions:

  • Miami, Fla., October 2004: “When it comes to picketing, the Carpenters’ Union has discovered it’s smart to outsource. …That’s part of the strategy behind a flurry of protests outside a few Brickell Avenue towers in recent months. But complaints have filtered to Miami police regarding abusive language and use of the homeless to hold signs. “Maybe some are homeless, but not the majority,” Kuzmik said.
  • Indianapolis, Ind., May 2005: “The labor group hires demonstrators–including many homeless and unemployed people who have little or no connection to the construction trades–to picket various projects, carrying giant fake rats on sticks or even wearing rat costumes.”
  • Columbus, Ohio, August 2006: “Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters is upset that some contractors and property-management companies don’t pay carpenters the $22.50-an-hour standard wage and, perhaps, don’t pay for health insurance or pensions. So the union is picketing these companies. Well, sort of. The union itself is not doing the protesting. Rather, it has hired more than 160 nonunion people — the jobless and the homeless — to do its picketing.”
  • And as we noted yesterday, Street Sense, the self-help homeless tabloid, reported the story in August 2005.

Bret Jacobson at Laborpains.org also notes another newscase from back in August 2006. (Video here.)

6 thoughts on “Carpenters’ Union Outsources Picket Lines”

  1. Isn’t the hypocrisy stunning – and even more so since they don’t see it themselves? How did they not realize this wouldn’t open themselves up to mockery?

    I think this is refreshing in some ways. What better proof of the benefits of a free market?

  2. Short and sweet, it’s the free market ingenuity at work. It’s more cost effective for the union to hire out its protests than for the members to actually leave their jobs and protests themselves.

    In doing so, though, unions open themselves up to traditional arguments against corporations. Hypocrisy, wage and benefit issues, etc.

  3. They are making a big mistake here hiring the homeless. They should hire the illegals since they will do the work that Americans won’t do. This must be one of those jobs. Maybe we should follow the American custom and set up an organization to “organize” union picketers. 🙂 ………steve

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