Tag Archives: labor protest

How to do a labor protest wrong

Today I’m driving through one of our town’s major intersections, and out in front of Gold’s Gym I see three people holding up a large banner about a labor dispute with Gold’s.  Hmmm.  Okay, well, in general I tend to be friendly to labor in labor disputes, so I loop around and park nearby.  I wander over to find out what it’s about, radiating a friendly aspect.

The picket captain in her orange vest comes over, and it goes something like this:

“Hi, what’s the dispute about?”

“Well, we’re protesting blah blah blah which I can’t talk about for obvious legal reasons, blah blah, but here is a sheet about what the protest is about and it’ll tell you all right there.”  She clearly wanted me gone, mystifying to me, as it doesn’t take three people to hold up that sign.

“You can’t tell me about the dispute?”

“No.  Are in a union, or close to someone who is?”

A little smile.  “You might say that.”  And I’m thinking, Lady, I’m married to one of the most dynamic labor leaders in the whole state of Washington.  If you refuse to even have a conversation with me, your cause is doomed because you are too dumb.  You didn’t even probe that statement.  You should have.  My wife would have been interested.

“Well, everything is in the flyer, so hope you enjoy reading it, and have a nice day.”  She walks off on me.  I’ve barely said a word.  No discussion occurred, no accepting the opportunity to enlist support, not even from someone who walked up and showed interest.  There I am, standing on the grass alone, holding a piece of green paper.  Dismissed.

Bewildered, I walk away reading the flyer with the headline:  SHAME ON GOLD’S GYM For Desecration of the American Way of Life.  Underneath it, it has a rat eating the US flag.  Well, that’s about my personal opinion of both our major parties and their governing abilities, so if they are trying to shock me, that’s not very effective.  I get to reading it, and essentially Gold’s hired a contractor who hired a subcontractor that doesn’t pay the carpenters standard union wages and benefits.  How this is an issue she cannot discuss for ‘obvious legal reasons’ is beyond me.  Why she brushes off a gold-plated chance to make her union’s case to me is even farther beyond me.  It’s an area with very little foot traffic.

For the record, the flyer is authored by the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters.  It urges me to call some guy and urge him to change the situation.  Yeah, I’m really sure he’s still taking calls today.

On second thought, at the rate these people are going, maybe he doesn’t even realize there’s a picket.

When I get home, I decide to call the information number to let them know what kind of shape their picket is in.  A recording: please leave your name and number and we’ll have someone call you.

You know what? Nah, I think not. Figure it out yourself.  No wonder organized labor can’t counter the negative propaganda about itself–when given the opportunity and a receptive audience, it won’t talk to it.  It hands it a piece of paper and walks off.

PS:  A friend of mine from Sweden, Mattias, has suggested that they may actually have been rental protesters.  I guess there are companies out there who can be hired to protest, and their own contracts forbid them to talk about the actual issues for legal reasons.  That would fill in a gap of understanding, although she was still an idiot, as the “obvious legal reasons” were hardly obvious to me.  Next time I’ll have a bolt in the quiver:

“So, are you rented protesters or are you actually union members and sympathizers?”

“We can’t talk about that for legal reasons.”

“Heh, thanks.  I have my answer.”