Carpenter union uses unsual protesters
Protesters in Dallas are upset about the wages for carpenters and are making their voices heard via protesting. But KHOU-Dallas reports that many of the picketers standing outside the offices of contractors who pay less than the union sanctioned wage for carpenters are, in fact, homeless and are being paid to protest with union funds.
Business owners have been subjected to watching and hearing people with picket signs scream and chant outside their offices. While Americans are allowed to protest, and justly so, how far does that right go before it infringes on the rights of others?
“We tend to hire a lot of people that have lived in the shelters down here,” Texas Carpenters Regional Council member Craig Wright told KHOU. “It doesn’t matter if they’re homeless or not homeless; anybody can come down and work for me, if they’d like.”
The homeless employees are paid about $8 an hour and work 20 hours a week, and some of the homeless say that the union has given them some income during dire straights.
“People support AIDS research, they support cancer research, yet you don’t have to have AIDS or cancer to support those things, and these guys don’t have to be carpenters to support a good cause.”
This isn’t a long-term solution for the homeless, though; the union is taking advantage of people in a time of need, and ironically, as the homeless chant and cry for higher wages, health care and pensions, the union does not provide its temporary workers with any of these benefits.
The carpenters union in Dallas has reported that about 33 percent of its picketers are homeless and that at least three of them have become apprentices to carpenters, gotten full-time jobs soon after and managed to better their living situations.
But this isn’t enough to justify exploitation.
The money used to pay these homeless protesters comes from the union itself, which seems to detract from its mission of securing more money for carpenters.
It’s a counterproductive cycle, and the carpenters union could learn a thing or two from common sense — or perhaps a restructuring of the union.