Whose sidewalks? Our sidewalks!
Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters has been dogging R&H Construction, a general contractor, for refusing to pay area standard wages and benefits (and thus undermining union-signatory contractors).
In early April, union handbillers showed up at Kassab Jewelers on 529 SW Broadway, where R&H was doing a remodel and expansion. Kassab and R&H employees came out, blocked off the sidewalk with a chainlink fence, and posted a “sidewalk closed” sign. When the handbillers left, the sidewalk was reopened; when they returned, it was closed again, in under five minutes. This went on for several days. The union is arguing in a pair of National Labor Relations Board charges against the two companies that it’s clear the closures weren’t for pedestrian safety, but to interfere with the union’s legal right to flier the public.
Using fences to keep union folks out isn’t uncommon at privately owned construction sites, says Carpenters spokesperson Ben Basom, but this was egregious — it’s a public sidewalk.