Members of the Carpenters Local 1506 finally let us know why they were demonstrating last week on a prominent Tempe street corner.
A statement signed by Alan Cahill, the union's special representative, and faxed to New Times says that 1506 "is involved in a long standing labor dispute with Adobe Drywall, LLC over its failure to pay all of its workers the carpeners union's area standard wages and benefits."
It goes on to say:
The demonstrators were out-of-work metal stud framers and drywall hangers, friends and family members of those workers and union staff. The sole focus of these demonstrations is to bring public awareness to the fact that Adobe Drywall is undercutting the wages and benefits established by the Carpenters Union.
The statement left us wondering why three union leaders standing near the 50 or so picket-waving demonstrators on March 10 didn't want to talk to the "press," and why they acted downright unfriendly.
. As mentioned, all we'd done to offend them is identify ourselves and ask why they were out there, and the next thing we know, we've got three heavies breathing down our neck, saying they didn't want attention and asking us to leave.
We called Cahill yesterday: "They may have over-reacted," he says of the union dudes' inexplicable response to us on March 10.
The 1506 has been protesting Adobe Drywall for years, as can be seen from news articles from 2006, 2007 and 2008. One of Adobe Drywall's owners, Ray Lewis, habitually explains to the media that, contrary to the union's claims, his company pays better than union wages and offers better benefits.
As can be seen in one of the East Valley Tribune articles, we aren't the only reporters to be given a brush-off by the union at their protests.
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Really, it's no wonder that these guys are cagey. They're experienced at cat-and-mouse games. In a federal court case against Adobe, representatives of the union describe how federal law allows them to protest only at their targets' active job sits, requiring them to follow drywallers around town like amateur undercover cops. If you've got some time to kill, a 2009 transcript from the case makes for interesting reading: