LA Times covers Arroyo Grande union dispute

February 10, 2010

The long-simmering standoff between an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in Arroyo Grande and an out-of-town labor union has caught the eye of statewide media. [Los Angeles Times]

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, based in Ventura County, has been protesting outside of Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab since last October. Paid union members have been hoisting a 15-foot-wide banner, “Shame on Doc Burstein’s Ice Cream Lab” on Branch Street in the Village.

Their beef? Union officials claim that Doc Burnstein’s owner, Greg Steinberger, is using a company that allegedly pays low wages. Steinberger is currently planning to open a second ice cream store in the renovated Santa Maria Mall. The contractors on the project, who do not work for Steinberger, are using a non-union drywall company.

“I don’t know what it will take to make them go away,” Steinberger said, insisting that he has no control over the renovation of the mall.

A similar campaign by the same labor union has targeted Meathead Movers in San Luis Obispo.

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It’s bad enough that the carpenters union has abandoned their membership but now they are attacking our ice cream? Come on carpenters , leave our ice cream alone. Thank god all the other construction unions like ice cream and don’t like you.

Is it any wonder that people hate unions–and the antipathy continues to grow? Why can’t an honest entrepreneur do his business? Union behavior has become disgusting these last years–protecting the status quo, no expectations of quality, just protect the job at all costs. Let the little guy–and non-union employees–suck it up. If we lived in Arroyo Grande, we’d be eating–with all our friends and families–at the ice cream shop every day, carrying signs that’d suggest that unions get back to the business of DECENT wages and SAFE working conditions. If those are present w/o unions, go fight another fight.

Out Standing. This is a story, that should become national news. I am very fond of Unions and Union workers, however, this is not something that our Unions should be involved in today!

Remember that the Carpenters are not what most people consider a Union. They are run by Doug McCarron who appointed his brother to a position covering the West Coast where he earns a mid six figure salary plus a very substantial expense account. The membership is not allowed to vote on contracts or representatives. The Local Unions are only shells without any rights or authority.

The Carpenters have given several million dollars to the Republican Party and their candidates since McCarron forced his way into the executive position. The Carpenters supported Arnold Schwarzenegger and Coleman over Franken in Minnesota. McCarron had a personal relationship with George W. Bush and even flew on Air Force One on several occasions. Bushed used the Carpenters as a back drop for several photo ops.

The Carpenters have been in the national spotlight for using paid undocumented workers to picket for them. Most of these workers are paid little more than minimum wage, no benefits, no union either. Some workers have even been fired for trying form a union. At the same time that the Carpenters knowingly employ undocumented workers they have called in I.C.E. against companies that refuse to knuckle under to their demands that the employer send McCarron 3% to 5% of the employees gross wages.

The Carpenters are also considered a predatory union and are not members of the Building and Construction Trades nor the AFL-CIO or Change to Win, they also are not part of the Canadian labor movement and are seen as predatory in Canada as well. Simply, the Carpenters are not a Union but a temp agency that demands that contractors use their services without regard to employee sympathies nor the broader good of the labor movement.

Whoo-hoo! Their heads is on fire and their asses is catching. Hope this media event sets back their movements another 50 years.

They wonder why nobody likes unions. I was in the carpenter union for years and they never did anything to improve my life. All they ever wanted was my dues paid on time. Been a carpenter for 30 years… high wages are depends on how the market is doing, right now wages are down, which is the way it should be. Only the government can afford to over pay everybody. Ok, i’m done ranting.