Union attempts to strong arm Meathead Movers

November 23, 2009
Aaron Steed

Aaron Steed


Since a local general contractor refused to hire a union company to install drywall at the future San Luis Obispo home of Meathead Movers, the tactics and aggressive antics of the rejected bidder’s union have reached a level that caused workers at the job site to call the police.

In October, two of the construction workers asked representatives of the Union Brotherhood of Contactors (UBC) Local 150 to leave their property because of alleged bullying. When their refusal to leave led to a heated argument that included foul language, a worker called the San Luis Obispo Police Department for assistance.

Hired by a group of businessmen that include Aaron and Evan Steed, the owners of Meathead Movers, the general contractor rejected the bid by an out-of-area union sub-contractor. That bid was almost double the amount of bids submitted by other contractors.

And even though Meathead Movers is a tenant and not an owner of Central Coast Mini Storage, where the disputes have taken place, the picketers are handing out flyers that say, “Shame on Meathead Movers for desecration of the American way of life.”

“The idea is to do enough harm to the business to make the business owner try to persuade the land owner to hire their workers,” Meathead Mover co-owner Evan Steed said. “People think our employees are picketing. This is misleading and extortion.”

Added Aaron Steed, “If we had to build this project at 43 percent more, this project would not be happening. This Southern California union is trying to extort Meathead Movers.”

Meathead Movers employs more than 160 people and is expecting to hire more employees after work on the new offices and storage area is completed (eight months).

“We take a lot of pride in that (putting people to work),” Aaron Steed said. “We are taking a risk trying to grow during a bad time.”

According to the union’s flyer, which displays a large rat gnawing on the American flag, Rarig Construction is a rat who does not pay its workers’ health care or pension benefits. Although the marchers appear to be unemployed union laborers, those holding signs as they march in front of the future home of Meathead Movers are paid picketers.

While Rarig Construction provides their employees with health benefits and a 401 K retirement plan, the union pays their picketers an hourly wage but does not offer them any health care or retirement benefits.

Newspaper articles have reported that UBC generally pays picketers $8 per hour. Union representatives said they hire non-union workers to picket, though they would not divulge what they pay them.

The Camarillo-based Local 150 hires the homeless, the unemployed and the retired to promote its message. Three picketers walk the line from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday on the corner of Higuera Street and Hind Lane in San Luis Obispo.

“They go down to the Salvation Army and pick up people,” said Steve Weiner, secretary-treasurer of the Tri-County Building and Trade Council, AFL-CIO. “We don’t approve because it affects the other business trades and makes (legitimate union workers) look bad.”

Local 150 is not affiliated with the AFL-CIO, Weiner said.

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I think there is definitely a place for unions in this country — and I say that from having toured textile mills in the South — but unfortunately too many union bosses suffer from the greed they are supposed to protect workers against. I definitely side with Meathead in this situation.

As far as the Trib not covering this story, shame on those guys. However, in defense of the paper, it has covered the Weyrich situation while this blog has not. Plus, when the Trib does choose to cover a story, there tends to be a much higher degree of accuracy than you find here. And I say that from being closely associated with stories that have run in both outlets. The Trib, obviously, bows to ad dollars and circulation. This blog is all about a reporter’s agenda, IMO.

There are very few, if any domestic mills in the south any more. Mills have closed up facilities and shipped there looms to Asia for production. Unions again have contributed to the elimination of jobs for their members in this industry.

It is very typical for unions to not concede anything until it is too late and the jobs gone.

Today’s unions are all about collecting dues, not honestly negotiating fair labor conditions and pay. Unions are just not run by a very intelligent crowd.

How can you say CCN hasn’t covered Weyrich? CCN told us all about what was happening with Weyrich months ago and even the New York Times has recently covered the Weyrich story and mentioned CCN in the article as having reported on it months ago. Go to the front page of Daily Briefs on this site and read How To Lose 10 Million. The “brief” will take you to the NY Times article and also to the article done by CCN. I disagree that CCN doesn’t report with accuracy. They have never reported anything that wasn’t factual.

“The owners of Meathead Movers, the general contractor rejected the bid by an out-of-area union sub-contractor. That bid was almost double the amount of bids submitted by other contractors.”

The irony of this story is pretty rich to me. (I have no connection to this union or dispute.)

Five years ago, I got an estimate from Meathead for a local move that was in the $1200 range. It was just my belongings and three appliances moving thirty miles, and one of the Meatheaders came by to do an elaborate in-person estimate that took up an hour of my time. I’d moved three years earlier for a cost of about $400-500, and when I hired a different company for this move, it cost about the same — barely more than one-third Meathead’s estimate.

I got the impression that Meathead saw my previous neighborhood, assumed I was very well-off, and jacked up their estimate. Or maybe they didn’t want my business. It left a very bad impression, especially after all the schmoozing during their in-person estimate, and makes me wonder about their purportedly good rep.

Did the thugs at Meat Head then print up a sign to shame you into making a business decision that was not in your best interest? Did they hire protesters to loaf outside your house? What’s your point, other than that Meat Head was more expensive than the company you ultimately chose?

Here’s the point, spelled out so you can’t miss it: Meathead Movers, in my experience, can be meatheads too, i.e., poor businessmen. I’m not the only one with a story like this one. There’s only one thing worse than union corruption or intransigence: management corruption and intransigence, which after all is the reason unions exist.

Even acknowledging serious problems with unions, the wholesale union bashing here is ridiculous.

The “poor business men” of Meathead Movers have worked hard and have grown a highly successful business in our little town here. I’m not sure how you equate a higher bid you received to corruption??? I don’t think that Meathead Movers grew their business by advertising “the cheapest price in town”. But rather on quality.

There will always be a cheaper option, not always the best.

I have never known a worker who is guaranteed his job a rate of pay to put out higher quality work than a person who’s pay is dependent on his performance, and ultimately needs to rely on customer satisfaction to succeed.

mccdave, I am not sure I understand. Is “wholesale union bashing” more ridiculous or less ridiculous than trying to sully Meathead because you didn’t like their price five years ago?

Generally, I agree with your poignancy. But I can’t figure out what your point is.

Kids, their $1200 quote was unreasonable enough to be insulting — especially after the smarmy sales job I got — and I’m not the only one who’s been similarly surprised given their purported good reputation. Take from that whatever you want. If you want to hire them as movers, feel free to do so with the knowledge that you may be paying a 200% markup over reasonable rates.

While I don’t have direct knowledge of the dispute in this article — and as far as I can tell none of you do — it wouldn’t surprise me that they’ve been unreasonable elsewhere.

Imagine how much it would cost you to move if either one of the movers was using union labor. You would not have moved for $400.00 – $500.00.

I’m delighted to hear that someone was mean to mccdave. Makes my day!

WOA! This might be the new paradigm! Unions hire bums to picket low buck employers! Win Win for the publickkk at large!

Ah, the nobility of work!

I think unions have been the backbone of this country. I don’t like what is going on here but that doesn’t negate the worth of unions. If you want to get outraged and castigate something take a look at the bloody corporations that are rapidly sinking the average Joe.

Unions are supposed to help guarantee fair wages, safe work place conditions and fair retirement plans-none of which would exist if left up to the corporate bosses. The flaws that exist do not make unions obsolete or a joke.

I would say that the unions have BROKEN the backbone of this country. Look how they helped the US auto workers. They extorted pay rates and benefits that ran these companies into the ground. Yes, there are other issues with the auto companies but the major cause of there demise which diverted resources from producing quality products was when they were forced to pay a guy with maybe a high school education 100 grand a year with 4 weeks paid vacation, full medical benefits and pension, to install lug nuts on a Chevy in the factory.

This kind of pay can only be supported by the people of San Luis for the union supported police officers… many of which Do have a high school education I’m told.

Unions in this country had there appropriate time, in the 30’s. They are now dinosaurs.

We have laws to protect employees. Unions were relevant when there were no laws protecting employees. Unions succeeded in creating a safe fair work place, everyone thanks them, now it it time for them to disband. They are like a rouge army out looking for a war. The war is over but no one told them.

The unions are doing the same thing to all of us taxpayers. Just look at the benefits that our current civil employees receive. Enough is enough, hopefully the tea parties will wake everyone up and lead us back to reality.

Another reason that I support NON-UNION companies!! The Union in this and some other instances can go F**K themselves!! I am so tired of Union bullies. What a bunch of wimps. I would personally like to get some of them in a back alley and go to town!!

Where is the Tribune on this issue? Geez, its right across the street from there offices????? I have not seen a single article in the Trib on this issue. But I guess they would not want to change there liberal biased format and point out the ridiculous actions of a union. Go Obama…

Meet Head Movers is a great local employer; we need to run these Union idiots out of town. Go Meat Head Movers and all SLO local businesses!

I didn’t know anyone still read the Tribune… I guess my only question is why?

Every local story of substance for the last six months has originated on this site!

Thanks Karen!

Because of the flak, I will use no one but Meathead Movers in the future.

Anyone doing construction should use only non-union workers from now on!

I get the Trib for the local sports and to wrap up fish guts. Go Meathead Movers!

Unions are destroying this country. What a joke they have become. This story should be in all the newspapers.

That is too funny that the union hires non-union labor to do its picketing.

This article is prime evidence that unions have become obsolete, for those few people on the planet who didn’t already know.

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