Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's a Protest Thing, Part Two

As of last week the Enormous Inflatable Cat has been replaced by these.

While I thought the cat was pretty conversation worthy, apparently it’s not really a "thing" until you call SHAME on something. Since theses signs went up I’ve seen a spike in traffic to my blog, specifically the one where I mention this little protest against the Philadelphia Cricket Club. I thought I couldn’t possibly be the only information out there on this but it seems to be the case. Not even IBEW98 has put anything on the internet to explain why they’re out there.

Because people are interested though – and because I’m interested too – I decided to try to find out a little more about why the union wants us to boycott the Cricket Club. You know - besides amassing obscene amounts of money for membership. While my Marxist tendencies agree that’s pretty gross (especially if they aren’t giving back to the community), there is nothing technically wrong with it.

On my first encounter with the gentleman at the protest site, I was given a flyer with some basic information as to why they were upset. They were turned up for job in favor of Gillespie Electric who didn’t pay their workers fairly. They were “Out of Towners”, as well. They wanted Philadelphia Cricket Club (PCC) to assume accountability for their part in the community.

When I talked to the union members at the site again, I couldn’t help but get the idea that the idea that this fight might be a little more immigrant-based than they lead on. The people that Gillespie hired weren’t trained like union workers were, was the gist, and when it came time to paying taxes the company was only required to give them a 1099 – which didn’t ensure that taxes were actually getting paid. No specific mention of “illegal immigrants” was made, but this is what I gleaned from the conversation.

Honestly, it reminded me a little bit of the South Park episode where people come back from The Future (where we’ve made Earth a terrible place to live) and they get a bunch of menial jobs so that they can stay in The Present.  The union gets together a town hall meeting and people take turns telling about how they’ve been cheated by these “Goobacks”, each with the punchline “They took our jobs!”

(I may have a differing opinion on immigration, however, which makes me see it that way.)
Out of fairness to all parties involved, I reached out the CEO of the Philadelphia Cricket Club, whose contact information was given on the flyer handed to me by IBEW98. He was prompt and thorough with his responses, if most definitely acting in his best interests.

While I could not get a direct answer as to whom had bid on the job, nor to the question of the actual membership dues, I was informed that in the “open shop bidding process” the union’s prices was double, and “exorbitant”. As far as “local”, PCC does not consider the location of Gillespie Electric to be outside of that definition. As the business is based forty miles from the site, I personally wouldn’t consider it “local” but Philadelphia doesn’t fall within that area either, so you decide on that one. 

When I was told that the reported membership dues of $43,000 per year were “somewhere in the range of ridiculous and preposterous”, I found myself dubious. I don’t actually expect that an exclusive country club would admit to being so expensive to join (and not disclosing an actual amount doesn’t help me believe them) but then I’m rather against expensive, exclusive country clubs to begin with. I don’t understand how that other half lives, what purpose that sort of thing would even serve, or why that information would have to be such a secret. I work on the assumption that if you don’t see a price it means that it costs too much, and maybe I kinda resent the One Percenters for not sharing. 

But we should probably not reference my Marxist tendencies again…

If we could label this funny little distraction on my morning ride to work, I think it would be called “Pass The Buck”. I’m guessing that no one is particular innocent here. Union IBEW98 wants to throw a stink because they were turned down for a job and are out of work (obviously, because they seem to have some time to kill!), PCC probably has enough money to pay more for the work (but should they? I mean, I would go with the low bidder too.) and I’m just guessing Gillespie Electric has a couple of people being paid under the table (I can’t confirm it, though, because when I contacted them about it I got no response and who is going to own up to that).

So, though the CEO of Philadelphia Cricket Club disagrees, what I said before remains true: The Union got me talking and they got people interested in what they’re doing and so to that end they have succeeded.

After all, what red-blooded American doesn’t love a good protest? Even if it doesn’t really make any sense.


Deidre said...

Wow, You're doing some great investigative journalism here :) I love it.

Anonymous said...

A slew of SHAME signs outside Cathedral Village in Roxborough as well. Same union?

Evolutionary Revolutionary said...

Anon - looks like it!


The guy on this video gives the same schpiel I got!

Ellen said...

Thank you!!! I've been wondering about this for weeks, and you're right, you're the only one reporting on it! Fantastic, independent journalism (and a little editorializing as well). I like your fair approach to both sides. You should write for a paper!

Evolutionary Revolutionary said...

Ellen - you are most welcome! It's so funny that they are still at this.

And thank you for your kind words! No newspapers are offering, though. ;)

Anonymous said...

Been wondering about the signs too, as I see them on my commute. Its funny that the Union doesn't identify themselves with the signs. Probably because Philadelphians wouldn't side with overpriced Union. At one time Unions served a legitimate purpose, but that time has come and gone. Thanks for the info!!!!

Anonymous said...

Googled specifically to learn about this -- and thank goodness you have the info!

Anonymous said...

The annual dues at PCC are nowhere near the number you mentioned. More like10% of that amount. Also PCC does not have a CEO. It has a democratically elected, unpaid, volunteer president and a professional management staff consisting entirely of hard working "local people," all of whom pay taxes! The club also does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, or anything else. Shame on the union for casting unfair aspersions on a fine Philadelphia institution.