Don’t hate. Punctuate.
It has been a longstanding tactic of labor organizations to protest in front of places of business in order to draw attention to union grievances, as well as to deter potential customers from utilizing the establishment.
The vigor of these protests can range anywhere from a wild raucous affair, to the downright sad and pathetic.
This time, however, one Wichita area Subaru dealership has managed to turn a union protest into a funny form of free advertisement.
According to The Wichita Eagle, the United Brotherhood Of Carpenters And Joiners Of America Local 201 began a standard protest outside Subaru of Wichita last week with a “Shame on Subaru of Wichita” sign legally placed on the highway right-of-way in front of the dealership. (The union, which has not specified its exact complaint, may have been upset that the dealership’s contractor hired a non-union shop for renovations.)
The dealership responded instead with its own sign, turning the union’s charge into one of “having unbeatable prices.” Because the sign rests in the right-of-way, neither sign can be anchored in the ground — they must be held up by people, which Subaru of Wichita says on its Facebook page has been handled by student volunteers so far. (Other carpentry unions often recruit and pay their protestors, since the carpenters themselves have jobs to fill.)
Well played, Subaru of Wichita.
This isn’t the first time the union has engaged in intimidation campaigns similar to this.
In early 2013, again citing vague grievances about noncompliance with “area labor standards,” there were a handful of similar incidents in the Wichita area.
The Carpenters Local 201 are behind the signs and protests outside of Wichita State, the YMCA, and Central Christian Church to name a few. They claim non-union contractors aren’t paying standard wages and benefits for the area.
“It’s more frustrating because the contractors and owners are dealing with it,” says Danny Satterfield, owner of Danny Satterfield Drywall.
His drywall company is the reason protesters stand outside Wichita State. He received a letter from the union claiming it investigated the wages and benefits he pays. That investigation, the letter says, concluded wages and benefits Satterfield pays are less than the established area standard.
And how exactly do these unions conduct these so-called investigations of private companies? In a word: hearsay.
“We verify in the field with the workers,” says the protester. He wouldn’t say how much the workers are paid, or what is considered a “fair wage.”
Clearly, this union is nothing new to Wichita area residents and businesses.
It’s nice to see one company has been able to find a clever, lighthearted way around these classic labor intimidation tactics.
Indeed, the car dealership’s signs were so successful that the union decided to move their sign to the other side of the right-of-way, so the Subaru counter-protest sign would no longer make sense.
Well, Subaru of Wichita found a way around that, too.
And on goes the “Shame On” shuffle.
Subaru: 2, Union: 0.
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