Unions Don’t Believe Their Own Hype

Apparently, unions don’t support high wages and benefits — well, that is if they’re the ones paying the bills,

The picketers marching in a circle in front of a downtown Washington office building chanting about low wages do not seem fully focused on their message.

Many have arrived with large suitcases or bags holding their belongings, which they keep in sight. Several are smoking cigarettes. One works a crossword puzzle. Another bangs a tambourine, while several drum on large white buckets. Some of the men walking the line call out to passing women, “Hey, baby.” A few picketers gyrate and dance while chanting: “What do we want? Fair wages. When do we want them? Now.”

Although their placards identify the picketers as being with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, they are not union members.

They’re hired feet, or, as the union calls them, temporary workers, paid $8 an hour to picket. Many were recruited from homeless shelters or transitional houses. Several have recently been released from prison. Others are between jobs.

…Political groups also are tapping into local homeless shelters for temps.

One resident of the Community for Creative Non-Violence shelter earns $30 a day holding a sign outside a Metro stop protesting nuclear war. In 2004, residents of at least 10 shelters were paid to collect signatures on petitions in favor of legalized gambling. Residents call this type of work “lobbying.”

The carpenters union is one of the most active picketers in the District, routinely staging as many as eight picket lines a day at buildings where construction or renovation work is being done without union labor.

Supporters of the practice consider it a creative tactic in an era of declining union membership and clout. But critics say the reliance on nonunion members — who are paid $1 above minimum wage and receive no benefits — diminishes the impact and undercuts a principle established over decades of union struggles.

$8 an hour with no benefits? $30 a DAY? That doesn’t sound like a “living wage,” nor would it even be the minimum wage if John Edwards has his way. After all, he wants to raise it to $9.50 an hour. Heck, would it even qualify as “fair wages?” I’d say “yes,” but then I’m a capitalist who thinks “fair wages” are whatever you can convince people to pay you for your work.

Of course, this is just more of the same old, same old from the Left. They fly from their mansions in private jets so they can tell people to use less energy. They complain about “special interests” while they are slavishly catering to the trial lawyers and unions. And the unions pay people $8 an hour with no benefits to picket because they say that the exorbitant pay and benefits that union members typically get don’t amount to “fair wages.”

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