In Grand Rapids, Mich., the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters has started protesting companies that hire a local non-union carpentry firm, Ritsema Associates. Where does the union get its picketers? It hires them from a homeless shelter that is supported by Ritsema Associates.
In union fliers, MRCC accuses Ritsema of not providing standard wages, but no formal complaint has ever been lodged with the National Labor Relations Board against the company. Rietsma Associates is a private contracting firm which has never been unionized, nor have its employes ever attempted to unionize.
Michigan Capitol Confidential has the story:
Though hired by the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters to hold up signs and pass out fliers denouncing Ritsema all over the city, few of those doing the demonstrating have ever been carpenters at all and don’t appear to have any clue that the company they are protesting has generously supported a local ministry that often provides a safety net for them specifically or [homeless] people like them . . .
Ritsema is aware of no labor dispute with any of his employees, whom he calls a “great group of guys,” and says that since his father founded the company in 1955, no effort has ever been made to unionize its workforce. He suspects that the “standard wages” accusation by the MRCC isn’t really the issue, noting that the MRCC started making trouble for him shortly after he successfully outbid unionized contractors for a job in Indiana.
“This is one of the most bizarre, one of the most disingenuous campaigns that we have seen anywhere in the country,” said Chris Fisher, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan. “It is based on zero facts, and it is really shameful to see the lengths to which these union bosses are willing to go in our state.”
MRCC managers confirmed that the homeless people hired to protest Ritsema Associates are "paid hourly wages by the union."