Today (11-14-06)in the heart of downtown Atlanta, GA there was an intermittent burst of what one might call a protest, picketing or strike. What was at issue? This is what I wanted to know as I heard the seemingly organized, vociferous display taking place on the corner of Harris and Peachtree Center Avenue across from Peachtree Center...first in the morning, then mid-morning and, again, later in the afternoon. I finally ventured over to find out what was going on first-hand, after having asked a local construction worker walking nearby what was happening. Upon hearing what the construction worker had to say I HAD to go find out for myself if his claim...which I will reveal later in this piece...was true! When I finally did go over to the protest I confronted who I thought was one of the organizers and received a flyer. Here is the flyer word for word:
HYATT REGENCY HOTEL
BAD CORPORATE CITIZEN
For Desecration of the American Way of Life
(Image of a rat chewing away a partially eaten American flag)
A rat is a contractor that does not pay all of its employees prevailing wages, including either providing or making payments for family health care and pension benefits.
Shame on THE HYATT REGENCY HOTEL for contributing to area standards for Atlanta carpenter craft workers. Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council has a labor dispute with THE CIRCLE GROUP which is a subcontractor for NIX-UNGER CONSTRUCTION at 265 PEACHTREE ST. THE CIRCLE GROUP does not meet area labor standards, including providing or fully paying for family healthcare and pension for all of its carpenter craft employees.
Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council objects to substandard wage employers like THE CIRCLE GROUP working in the community. In our opinion the community ends up paying the tab for the employee health care and low wages tend to lower general community standards, thereby encouraging crime and other social ills.
Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council believes that the HYATT REGENCY HOTEL has an obligation to the community to see that area labor standards are met for construction work performed on their properties. They should not be allowed to undermine the area standards that Atlanta carpenters have spent over 100 years fighting to establish.
PLEASE CALL HYATT REGENCY HOTEL at (404) 577-1234 TELL THEM THAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO ALL THEY CAN TO CHNGE THIS SITUATION AND SEE THAT AREA LABOR STANDARDS ARE MET FOR THEIR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.
The members and families of the Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council thank you for your support. Call (706) 854-8777 for further information. www.shoulder2shoulder.com
WE ARE NOT URGING ANY WORKER TO REFUSE TO WORK NOR
ARE WE URGING ANY SUPPLIER TO REFUSE TO DELIVER GOODS.
I must say, regarding the flyer, that I am ALL FOR the rights of workers...of ANY kind! I'm a worker! But I am a worker who is of a firm belief and knowledge that ALL the big companies care about is the bottom line...the dollar! In the case of major corporations like The Hyatt Regency, currently a private organization owned by the Billionaire Pritzker family out of Chicago...and expected to go public within the next 5 years, the art of maximizing the dollar is a process that has been fine tuned beyond Scientific methods. PEOPLE are mere shades of gray and silver on the spokes of the giant wheel that MUST continue to roll at all costs. I REALIZE this! This is America! We revel in capitalism and the preservation of corporations: businesses that have the rights of an individual person. An individual person that is, in too many cases, a complete sociopath, crook, breaker of laws (ultimately subject to fines as opposed to jail time) and an entirely crooked camper! High level executives cry like babies when they are forced to pay back 10 Million dollars of a 120 + Million dollar salary they made IN ONE YEAR...after it has been learned that they were "unethical". 120 + Million A YEAR!!! I remember learning, as a young pup, that the average man is lucky if he earns 1 Million dollars in a LIFETIME! These people cry when the fortune of 10 lifetimes is taken from their 130 lifetimes worth of fortunes "earned" from ONE year of "Work"!
That's America folks! You gotta love it! Another memorable thing I heard growing up was "love it or leave it". If you don't like this country or its capitalistic system...do what Ray Charles suggested in one of his most famous records and "hit the road jack...".
I say all that to say I KNOW that workers are being shit on! What else is new? What is at issue in my view is how do you best polish a rotten apple? Do you, or your group or movement possess some sort of magic cloth that can permeate the rotten meat and cleanse it...resurrect its diseased innards? Or are you actually PART of the whole cesspool? Are you taking a temporary higher moral ground or a higher ground that will allow you to pelt your alleged enemies from a more advantageous position? I believe that THIS is what we all...who decide to take part in the capitalistic machine...do!
At any rate...back to the "event". I took some photos of the "protesters" and I talked to a couple of the organizers on hand. I very much sympathize with their cause as, again, I sympathize with ALL workers who are more and more being stripped of their position and pay. But I was interested in finding out if what the construction worker I earlier spoke to on the street was true. You see he had told me that these "strikers"...these "picketers"...these "protesters" WERE BEING PAID to strike/picket/protest!! Nawww...I thought! REALLY!? Could that be?? Scab protesters!?! Well guess what folks? As Paul Harvey says...IIIITTTTT's TRUE! I spoke to one of the picketers himself and he told me that, though some of the "protesters" were actual carpenters with an axe to grind, most of the "protesters" were individuals being paid $8.00 per hour for 5 hours of work!! I would guess that there were about 30 to 40 people out there (perhaps you can get a better idea from film clips downloadable at SCRC's/above website, of the group actually picketing).
In a land of REAL protesting done by people like Martin Luther King Jr. and the brave people of all backgrounds with him...for REAL causes like civil and human rights...I am uneasy about people/groups wanting my support...who HIRE people to picket for them! What does this say about the cause itself? And I have another question! Where is the money coming from to PAY the picketers?? Why isn't this money directed DIRECTLY towards the "carpenter craft employees" and their needy families...families containing members who are prone to committing future crimes due to low income (as suggested in flyer)??
Again, I very much sympathize with the Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council CAUSE (though I strongly feel we need to know more about their questionable practices). But I am convinced that cheap labor will continually undermine...and eventually destroy many of America's construction based industries...inevitable cheapER labor (much of which is condoned and created by many construction trades' willingness to hire illegal workers) and robotics!
What do you have to say Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council? You were informed this article was going to be posted and were invited to post your views on this website! Why do you pay people to strike for you?? Where do you hire them from...temp agencies like Randstad?? Where does the money come from to pay them?? What monies, if any, do you direct towards actual carpenters and their families?? Do you have ANY programs that ACTUALLY help or directly aid carpenters and their families?? Or are you just in the BUSINESS of leveraging more money for corrupt labor unions???