11/16/07

Carpenters employ 'Shame On Sign' intimidation tactic

They've almost become a permanent fixture around Bakersfield (CA), the Shame on Signs targeting local businesses for so-called labor disputes.

Eyewitness News first started looking into the labor dispute last November when we found out the local Carpenter's Union 1506 was and continues to be behind the protests. They are trying to influence contractors and businesses to use union laborers for construction jobs.

But Eyewitness News wanted to know if the protests are really having the affect the union wants or are they backfiring?

NUSIL Technology on Pegasus Drive remodeled their labs back in February and used non-union dry-wallers. That brought out the Shame on Signs. Vice President Jim Yabsley says the sign holders themselves were annoying and downright nasty. He went outside to take their pictures.

Jim Yabsley of NUSIL Silicone Technology, "Very rude, they said I had no business here and I shouldn't be here and I had no right to take their picture. And they got mad because we turn on our sprinklers on our lawn out here. And very rude." Yabsley took one picture with a sign holder giving him the 'one-finger salute'.

Patrick Wade owns Precision Pharmacy on Empire Drive. The shame on signs went up outside his business shortly after he opened because the owner of the building hired a non-union subcontractor to do the drywall, a decision Wade had nothing to do with. So he called the Carpenters Union to talk about it.

"In fact, when I told the rep of the Carpenters Union that, he told me Well, we're just gonna make an example out of you."
Q: "Example of what?"
A: "I don't know, good question. I don't see how we're connected to their cause. I don't think they cared who they were gonna trample on as long as it made more money for their constituents."

And money is the union's concern. The carpenters union claims using non-union workers has the ultimate effect of lower community standards through lower pay and encourages crime and other social ills.

Mark Lamas owns Panache Salon right next door to Precision Pharmacy. The shame on people showed up the very day he opened. Lamas admits he was nervous about it at first, but the nerves quickly went away when people seemed to say "shame" on the shame on campaign. "I think people even pulled over and stopped by when they saw the sign and came in and bought stuff just to support us, because they know that it like a black ball, this big sign out there. I mean it almost operated backwards, They didn't get the results they wanted from Panache."

Lamas continues, "And if they're concerned with really providing good jobs for people with good wages and insurance, they wouldn't be concerned with putting a company like ours out of business that does provide insurance or does provide a good wage. It just shows really it's about greed more than anything else."

Putting small businesses out of business, some would argue that seems to be the goal of the shame on campaigns. But for people like Wade and Lamas, were the signs bad for business or a blessing in disguise? "Instead, what they ended up doing was advertising for us. We were a new business and we needed to be recognized, and they did that for us," said Lamas

Shame on Panache "It benefited my company. We're a new full-service salon and I needed the business. I actually thought it would affect me. I did affect me in a good way," said Wade.

The Carpenters Union has the legal right to mount its shame on campaigns. As for Yabsley, here's how he chose to deal with it. "We've gone to the national labor review board with it and we have a case against them right now. They actually recommended that we contact you guys because we've heard that when the news gets involved they hightail it out of here. So that's what we're hoping."

The ironic part of the shame on campaigns is the fact that the majority of the businesses we spoke to have nothing to do with hiring the contractors. That's the landlord's decision. But the business owners bear the brunt of the campaigns anyway.

Eyewitness News spoke with a union rep in Los Angeles who helps coordinate the shame on campaigns. He agreed to a phone interview to tell the union's side of the story, but when I repeatedly called for the interview his phone went to voice mail.

(eyeoutforyou.com)

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