or the past few weeks, Carpenters Local Union #46 (CLU #46) has targeted the Co-op in their effort to force West Fork Construction (the General Contractor that the developer of our proposed relocation project has chosen to work with) to unionize. CLU #46 has been on the sidewalk adjacent to the store with large signs and a huge statue of the Grim Reaper while handing out leaflets that claim that the Co-op is “Hurting Workers, Hurting Families, Hurting Community”. CLU#46 expects the Co-op to require “West Fork or their sub-contractors to pay the area standard wages & benefits and to require apprenticeship and journeyman upgrade training on carpenter crafts on all their jobs.” This tactic — pressuring a third party and framing the issues around “area standard wages and benefits”— is a familiar one that the union often uses in its attempts to get contractors to unionize.
IGNORING SOME IMPORTANT FACTS
The answer to CLU #46’s issue is not to compel employee support of the Carpenters Union, but to be sure that employees are free to make their own choice without interference by an outsider like the Co-op. The Carpenters Union is free to seek to organize the employees of any GC selected by the developer, but it will ultimately come down to the free choice exercised by the employees, not top-down coercion by an unrelated third party like the Co-op which will dictate the result.
The Co-op has no stated policy that requires the hundreds of growers, manufacturers, distributors, service vendors, financial institutions etc. that it deals with to unionize. If this were the case we would have cut off dealings with more than 90% of the cooperatives in the country as few of them are (like us) unionized. While there are certainly cases in which non-organized workers are exploited by employers, it is inaccurate to assume that every open-shop employer is guilty of those practices. We do not want to be using a GC or subs that are exploiting their workers and we will make this clear to the GC if we move forward. If we became aware that a business we deal with is in fact abusing or exploiting its employees we would address that particular situation. The proposed relocation, unlike many projects that are required to use union labor, will not be subsidized by any public funds. Therefore we are under no obligation to obey any demands from CLU# 46 or to submit to their intimidation.