Trades gather to protest unfair hiring practices

THE DALLES - Construction workers and members of the Steelworkers Union gathered here to protest unfair hiring practices at the Norcor prison job. The focus was on the hiring of out-of-state workers without giving local crafts the opportunity to work on the job.

While the rally was union based, it is a community issue that affects all construction workers, union or not.

As a local citizen, your taxes go to fund state and county projects such as prisons, libraries and schools, just to name a few. We believe the community that funds these projects should be able to reap the benefits of the jobs created by our tax dollars. It is appalling to us that local workers lose jobs to out-of-state workers, jobs that are funded by these same local community workers. The loss of jobs such as this forces local workers to look outside of their communities so they can afford to eat, dress and pay taxes (for future public worker jobs).

Unions help to ensure that local workers get hired first. Unions also ensure that area standards and wages are not destroyed by the importation of workers willing to take your job for less than what you would normally draw in your local area.

A second issue of protest at the rally was the use of inmate labor to replace hard-working citizens. When state laws were amended to allow inmates to do work, it was intended that they do work within the prison system. Instead, a slave labor market has been created. Inmates are taking private sector jobs such as laundry services, deliveries, garment manufacturing and even construction. Jobs for you and your family members are being given to people forced to work for prison wages.

Prisoners are forced, in some cases, to replace jobs of the very people which they are supposed to pay restitution to. All the while, greedy corporations are getting wealthier. Working Electrician opposes these slave-labor tactics.

Working Electrician hopes you will join us in protesting unfair hiring tactics and prison labor abuses. Please encourage your local community directors to implement preferential hiring on local Davis-Bacon Act jobs. Remember, this benefits entire communities, not just unions.

(This article and Inmate Labor for Profit were rewritten from Working Electrician, a publication for career electricians and electrical unions.)

February 19, 1999 issue

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