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NW Regional Council of Carpenters Picket at Condo-building site on Mississippi Avenue

Contractor Gray Purcell Picketed by Carpenters Union on Mississippi Avenue, private security guard gets unruly.
This morning, Friday March 28, 2008, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters staged a picket line at the site of the Mississippi Avenue Lofts project (Skidmore and Mississippi Ave), demanding that contractor Gray Purcell pay area standard wages and offer area standard benefits.

The union picketers showed up at 6:30 am in the rainy and snowy morning, but the situation got heated when a private security guard for the condo-project used the metal fence to to push against the picketers, threatened to mace them, then called the police, reporting a "riot."

The police showed up and affirmed that the union picketers were within their rights to be there and to picket. What became unclear was whether or not contractor Gray Purcell had the proper permit to have their fence and cones out in the street as far as they did.

Uniformed police officers talked with a union spokesperson and contractor employee, as other cops, including one plain-clothes cop, stood around. The police decided not to take the private security guard to jail, and the picket continued.

pic 28.Mar.2008 11:08


picket at Mississippi Ave condo-project
picket at Mississippi Ave condo-project

What is difficult to understand 28.Mar.2008 17:24

is that

these condos continue to be built when virtually no credit exists to buy them. Existing condo developments everywhere are being forced to rent in order to maintain cash flow because buyers are not finding the credit to buy them. Most respectable leaders in the finance industry (and there are a few) agree that the sub-prime mortgage mess is going to take at least a year or more to work itself out. However it will take longer than that before lenders feel comfortable easing up on the credit. Of course, the Federal Reserve may step in to encourage lending, but that is unlikely to ease the comfort level of lenders anytime soon.

The real problem is that until real estate prices return to more reasonable levels - closer to actual market value - then lenders will not feel comfortable making new loans. So, what market do these developers seek out? Are they reaching for the super wealthy who can afford to cash out? Even that is far fetched as most astute investors will tell you that it still makes sense to mortgage real estate and invest the cash in more liquid investments.

So what gives here? I suspect the developers might be scamming the lenders. Build cheap, take the rest of the money, and run. That would explain why the contractors do not want to pay going wages or offer benefits - they know that they are going to take the money and run.

In short, caveat emptor, buyer beware. What you buy today may be worthless tomorrow.

Q: do rich people put most of their money in a house? 28.Mar.2008 22:14

A: of course not

The more rental housing the better, lower rents for everybody. Anyone who thinks one housing unit is an "investment" is getting scammed, no matter what the market happens to look like at the moment.

Show some solidarity..? 29.Mar.2008 13:33


anyone want to go out and show some solidarity with striking workers...
perhaps some folks who run a food not bombs out of their house want to put together a last minute meal and take it out for the strikers?

PNWRCC Picketts 03.Apr.2008 09:58

What is really happening!

What's really going on?
Although the PNWRCC has established informational pickets at the Gary Purcell jobsite it is not that contractor that is the target of the actions of the PNWRCC. The PNWRCC is protesting the conditions and pay of a sub-contractor.

It should be noted that this is a subcontractor that the PNWRCC allowed to operate outside their collective bargaining agreement because the majority of the employees were Latinos. A portion of the company was covered by a collective bargaining agreement but the PNWRCC only cared about the Anglo portion of the company. The PNWRCC was ok with this situation until it became a subject of discussion among other contractors that are signatory to their pattern collective bargaining agreement after the PNWRCC leadership failed to lead an effective strike.

The facts are simple in this issue the employer that the PNWRCC is picketing pays their employees more than the Union's "residential" agreement. The PNWRCC's "residential" agreement is substantially lower than their "commercial agreement" The leadership of the PNWRCC has told their members that this "residential" contract is not for them but simply for "Mexicans". These workers do substantially the same work but under the PNWRCC's "residential" agreement they get less pay than Anglo workers. This is one of the reasons the sub-contractor's workers have rejected the PNWRCC. The employer agreed to remain neutral and be bound by a secret ballot vote of the employees. The PNWRCC rejected this as it lacks support of the employees. Staffs at the PNWRCC have stated that their goal is to "crush" the contractor and put their employees on the street.

The fact that the PNWRCC picket lines are manned by low wage temp workers is an insult to the entire trade union movement. These workers receive far below the area standard wage for a Union employee and receive no health care or pension. These are the same issues that the PNWRCC are picketing the subcontractor for. This is a conscious decision by the leadership of the PNWRCC; the leadership lacks support of their own members so they are forced to hire people to man their pickets. Unfortunately the membership is prohibited by the PNWRCC from directly electing their Business Representatives who are all hired by the Business Manager who is elected by hand picked delegates.

Many members of the PNWRCC are fed up with the current leadership, their tactics, their lies and their spin machine. The membership is sick and tired of our leadership telling us that we do not need to belong to the broader labor movement but we should expect the support from the same groups of workers that our Union rejects. The membership is sick and tired of being black balled for not agreeing with appointed leadership. We are sick and tired of different treatment for the same work simply because a member is Latino. The PNWRCC has failed to represent its members and has one goal and that's the collections of dues.

somebody needs to work on getting informed 17.Apr.2008 13:20

rodney anonymous

Just wanted to comment on the above post. I almost don't know which flaw to point out first. As a person who works on some issues with the PNWRCC, I have grown to understand their organization pretty well, so I do not feel I am out of line pointing out where the above person obviously needs to research.
First of all, it is my understanding that Gray Purcell is actually a general contractor- I mean it says it right on their signs, so right out of the gate....you are off to a bad start. Second, all of this talk of the PNWRCC being anti- Latino... that is about the most absurd thing I have heard. Wasn't it the PNWRCC who fought so hard against one of their organizers being deported back to Mexico? Isn't the drywall/ tapers local majority Latino? Don't the drywallers make more than the general carpenters? Haven't I seen the PNWRCC at most May Day marches? Not to mention the work they do with other groups, including mine, who work to advocate for Immigrant's rights. Maybe you forgot about that stuff, or maybe you weren't giving Indy Media readers enough credit to remember those things.
Pickets being manned by low-wage temp workers...lets talk about that. I live near there and stopped by that picket, all I saw down there were staff of the PNWRCC. I know it was a bit cold and wet that day for some people, but maybe you should have gone down to see for yourself.
Residential agreements being lower (I am not going to justify the "for Mexican" part because I think I shot holes in that already) Now, just a thought on that because I dont know all of the complexities of the contracts but, wouldn't a rate be lower because of the amount of market is controlled, rather than the ethnicity of the person working under it? Besides, if you want to talk about residential rates and undercutting wages... shouldn't you be talking about LIUNA (Laborers union)? Aren't they the ones trying to swoop in under the UBC and trying to organize home builders at lower rates than the UBC?
Lastly, you confuse me...probably because you are confused yourself. You write your post as if you were a carpenter, but yet you seem to not understand anything about the carpenters union. You write about electing Business reps and hand picking local delegates by the business manager (by the way, that title does not exist within the Carpenters from what I am told). Aren't delegates nominated and elected by their fellow carpenters? I always called that a democratic process. It sounds like you need to work on getting educated about the labor movement.
I myself will applaud the carpenters for what they do in the labor movement, and with other groups who look to advance the rights of working people. I also applaud them for persevering, despite dying unions like IUPAT (Painters & Allied trades) and LIUNA constantly working against them. Dying unions like IUPAT and LIUNA who's sole purpose is to work against the Carpenters, rather than organizing workers... no wonder they are in the downward spiral. Hey, maybe when the Painters and Laborers Union shut their doors the Carpenters will pay the ex-business agents of those unions to picket. Probably not, if IUPAT and LIUNA continue to work on destroying solidarity and the labor movement as a whole. Oh well, they can come paint my fence I guess.