Operating Engineers Local 701 parked its giant inflatable rat in front of the Vancouver, Washington, office of General Labor & Industrial Staffing Services (GLISS) on March 5. Union members were there to inform the public about GLISS paying subpar wages and benefits to workers and doing so without providing any apprenticeship opportunities. Holland Residential recently contracted with GLISS to provide workers on its new construction project at SW 6th and Washington in downtown Vancouver. According to the union, those workers earn less than half the established area standard wage. Temp agencies like GLISS often pocket 30 to 50% of the wages earned by the worker while providing fewer benefits and offering no employment protections, Local 701 said in a press release. GLISS responded to the rat’s arrival by calling the police and threatening legal action.
“Displays and public appeals like this one are protected by both the First Amendment and the National Labor Relations Act, according to several federal court cases and National Labor Relations Board decisions,” said Local 701 Business Manager Jimbo Anderson. “We’re exercising out First Amendment rights to raise awareness about family wage jobs and apprenticeship programs.”
Local 701, which represents heavy equipment and stationary operators in Oregon and Southwest Washington, has had an increased presence in the region recently, touring with a new outreach and education trailer and encouraging women and people of color to apply for union apprenticeship programs so that everyone can earn a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.