Will Picket for Food

By September 16, 2005General

The RatWhile all the Washington cognoscenti are poring over the Washington Post and the New York Times for the latest news and trends, we’re getting the real news from Street Sense, the newspaper published by and on behalf of the homeless in Washington, DC. There on the front page of the August 15 edition is the headline, “Local Unions Paying Homeless to Protest”.

The story, by Daniel Horner, notes that the Carpenter’s Union, among others, have been recruiting pickets from the local homeless shelter. The protesters are paid $8/hour, which is a little better than the UFCW is paying the temps to picket out in Nevada (see below). Union employee Mike Zaner is quoted in the story as saying that the workers are “paid activists” and in some ways not very different from lobbyists or the Salvation Army. (We think this is the first time that those two groups have been mentioned in the same sentence, incidentally). But we think there probably is a little bit of a difference. First of all, the group that was profiled has been busy protesting a site near NAM headquarters for using non-union labor. The impression is that the protesters are aggrieved. In fact, they’re not aggrieved at all, they’re just paid to be there, paid to act aggrieved.

It is one more sad commentary on the state of the labor movement. If they can’t turn out enough bodies to picket or protest, how on earth do they expect to grow their ranks? Guess they could just contract that out, too.

We dispatched the Blogger’s Apprentice to take a photo of their activities, click on the image to see a larger version of a rather unseemly rat.