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'Shame on' union won't answer questions, accusations

9:38 PM, Apr 26, 2012   |    comments
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The protestors have been seen in the Denver area holding banners that say "Shame on..." that target businesses for hiring non-union contractors.

"This campaign is false and misleading," Mark Latimer, president of the Rocky Mountain Associated Builders and Contractors, said. "It's really a smear campaign. The ultimate goal is not to organize that company in terms of getting their employees to join the union, but to win work they're not currently getting."

Latimer says the intimidation tactic is working, prompting some businesses to avoid being a target by hiring union companies. Other companies have dumped independent contractors in the middle of work after getting protested, Latimer said. Those companies then hired union workers.

The Local 55, part of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, has not answered repeated phone calls seeking an explanation about its protests, which have increased in frequency over the past year.

Protestors have been seen holding banners at several locations in downtown Denver and in front of several businesses at the Denver Tech Center.

Similar Shame On protests have been seen in cities across the country, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Detroit, Washington D.C., Albuquerque, N.M. and Phoenix.

Paid to protest

On its website, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters says "every worker has a right to decent benefits."

9Wants to Know spoke to several protestors who said they were hired out of a local labor office and received an hourly wage of $10 an hour to hold the banners.

"Uh, this is my first day working, so I'm not too familiar with it," one protestor told 9Wants to Know when asked why they were protesting.

"I have no idea what it's about," another protester said.

Several protestors acknowledged to 9Wants to Know they don't receive union benefits.
When questioned, other protestors said they were not allowed to "speak the truth." Other protestors claimed they didn't speak English and refused to comment.

The flyers

At each location, the protestors hand out fliers with a drawing of a rat gnawing on a U.S. flag. The flyer attacks a business for hiring a non-union contractor and claims the contractor is not paying "area standard wages."

The flyers don't say exactly what the area standards are.

In one case the protestors were protesting a restaurant in the Denver Tech Center because its company hired a non-union contractor at a location in Arizona.

The union and refusing to comment

9Wants to Know spent significant time trying to reach union leadership for an explanation about its methods.

Union leaders either didn't answer phone calls and messages or simply hung-up when prompted for comment.

Protestors repeatedly referred 9Wants to Know to phone numbers on their flyers, but phone calls to those numbers were never returned.

9Wants to Know decided to picket the union itself with a banner marked with "Comment?" at its offices on Holly Street near 42nd Avenue.

Even after all of the effort to get an explanation, nobody from the union spoke except for a man who yelled through a door warning to get off the property.

The Associated Builders and Contractors has designed a website specifically to address the tactic known as "bannering."

The federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board, has declared the protests legal.

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola? Call him at 303-871-1425 or e-mail him at
jeremy.jojola@9news.com.

 

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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