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Union Scabbing at Philadelphia Convention Center

The long, pathetic spectacle of union scabbing has hit a new low in Philadelphia, where construction union officials are crossing picket lines set up by workers who have been locked-out by their employer because they did not capitulate quickly enough.

The Philadelphia Convention Center locked out members of the Carpenters and Teamsters unions May 5, after they sought to negotiate over new work rules the Center’s new management was determined to shove down their throats. (There is some dispute over whether the  unions had a week to capitulate, or just a day.) Four other construction unions (Laborers, Electricians, Stagehands and Iron Workers) accepted the terms, which overturn decades of jurisdictional rules and allow exhibitors to do much of the work that formerly had to be done by union workers. As a reward, management is assigning the locked-out unions’ work to them.

The Carpenters and Teamsters did agree to the unilaterally imposed rules after the lock-out was announced, but management said their surrender came too late. And so they are “picketing,” caged behind metal barricades, and surrounded by hordes of police.

Officials of the Electricians, Laborers and Stagehand “unions” promenaded past the locked-out workers (including politically connected Local 98 leader John Dougherty), and have been openly cheering the bosses’ refusal to negotiate working conditions and their lock-out of those workers who, however briefly, attempted to stand up for their rights and so are now thrown out on the streets.

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