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Picket Protest

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Seems those ever-present yellow picket banners the Carpenters Union has been posting at construction sites across the valley aren't earning them any friends among their peers.

The Southwest Idaho, East Oregon Building and Construction Trades Union and the Idaho State AFL-CIO issued a joint letter last week making sure the public knows they have nothing to do with the seemingly never-ending protest.

"We're hearing from the contractors themselves," said Dave Whaley, president of the Idaho State AFL-CIO. "They're not happy."

For the better part of a year, the Carpenters Union has stationed protesters in front of some highly visible construction projects across the Treasure Valley. Most recent on the list are the Meridian School District administrative offices and the Capitol renovation.

The union's stated purpose is to secure better benefits for its members, but other trade unions in the area say it's giving them a negative image.

"It's hurting our building trades by doing this, and that's not the thing to do," Whaley said.

The AFL-CIO and the other trade organizations have received comments from the public asking why they are continually protesting. They are quick to point out that not only is the protest not endorsed or sanctioned in any way, the Carpenters Union is not even a member of the AFL-CIO.

The other groups are quick to say they see protests in a much more serious light. "The only time that we really go out is if all the building trades have an issue, and it's really a last result," Whaley said.

Michael Kelly, president of the Building and Construction Trade Council, which represents 523 plumbers and pipe-fitters in the Boise area, said both the Council and the AFL-CIO have requested that the Carpenters Union stop the protests, but to no avail.

"They're on an agenda and they're going to go full-bore ahead with that," Kelly said.

Kelly also takes issue with the fact that the Carpenters Union is paying nonunion members to man the banners and picket lines.

"It's just not right," Kelly said.

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