Giant Rats Show Up at Glendale Cemetery

Union workers with two giant inflatable rats showed up outside the gates of Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield this morning to protest the building a new mausoleum without union labor — but complied immediately when police from both Bloomfield and Belleville asked them to take the rats down.

“We obey by the law,” said Bob Allen of Local 11, which staged the protest. “What the cops ask us to do, we do the best we can.”

Ray Woodall, business manager of Local 11, which is based in Bloomfield, said later by phone that the union did have the right to display the inflatable rats, “But I’m not going to raise a stink.” He added that he will likely send protestors out to the cemetery tomorrow dressed as rats. “It’s easier sometimes to put some guys in a rat costume and make the point that way.”

Lt. Richard Chiarello of the Bloomfield Police Department walked up to protestors on the Hoover Ave. side of the cemetery and said, “You can stay. But you have to take the rat down.” He later explained, “I’s a little bit inappropriate to have a big rat in front of the place where people bury their loved ones.” But one protestor, who did not want to be named, said his father was buried inside.

Members of the ironworkers local, supported by some other unions, bore signs that said “The Rebar contractor does not have a contract were Ironworkers Local 11.”

Woodhall says the laborers being brought in from New York are making $10 to $12 an hour, rather than the $34/hour plus benefits package negotiated by the union. “They don’t want to hire local people,” he said. “They want to go out of state and get this cheap labor.”

Rebar is the reinforcing steel that is used to support concrete.

Management of the cemetery declined to comment.

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  1. I don’t know how anyone could NOT support these working stiffs.
    The insistence on using non-union labor is not a dead issue. Its killing these guys.
    The union should undertake a publicity campaign to try to lay out their plan. They are not urning enough. All of these right wing plots against the working man are posing a grave danger to our society.

  2. In all seriousness, can someone please enlighten me?

    If I own a cemetery and need to replace my fence, and I have a budget of $50,000 to do the work, what’s wrong with selecting a contractor who can fit my budget?

    Maybe I would like to hire union labor, but their bid was $75,000.
    So, this means that now I have people protesting outside my establishment?? That sure makes me want to hire them next time. Am I not free to choose who to hire?

    What is the union trying to say here?

    Are they worried that eventually, everyone will be forced to work for $12/hour with no benefits, to the detriment of blue collar workers everywhere? Is the union trying to protect worker rights this way?

    I just don’t understand the concept.

  3. you’ve got it Kay. That’s exactly how it works. In order to prop up wages unions want to coerce people to only hire union workers.

    Democrats are in agreement and champion the working people of this country by supporting unions. Unless, of course, the Democrats are getting work done in their homes.

  4. The union should invite Mayor McCarthy to take a picture with the rat. Our Mayor is happy to take a picture with ANYBODY!

  5. I agree, it’s in poor taste. At least go a few blocks over. It’s disrespectful to those who are going to the cemetery to pay respects to a loved one.

  6. @johnq I assure you Mccarthy dreses in the best of taste – very collegiate – he likes having his picture taken.

  7. Kevin, that is priceless! You can’t make this stuff up.

    Kinda reminds me of the time I visited a store in Portland, OR, called Made in Oregon. There was sweatshirt I wanted to buy until I looked at the label: “Made in China.”

  8. Democrats are in agreement and champion the working people of this country by supporting unions. Unless, of course, the Democrats are getting work done in their homes.

    Nice strawman. I know you needed something to balance out your comment and make unions evvvvvvviiiiiiiil, but next time you find a union picketing a homeowner, let me know. Also, next time you find a union contractor willing to work on a non-commecial property, also let me know.

  9. $34+ per hour in total benefits!! Where do I sign up for that?</i?

    Ummm, join a union?

    Of course, you have to have specialized skills and a long apprenticeship before you make even close to that. Before my dad put away his tools, he could basically make anything out of sheet metal.

  10. It’s truly hard to imagine what specific skills might be required of ironworkers at a whopping $34 per hour with regard to the building of a modest mausoleum.

    Still, this item clearly proved catnip to the posters above.

    And how can Local 11 even afford to further waste everyone’s time on this one by sending protestors in “rat costumes” (Sammy “The Bull” Gravano masks?) tomorrow for further protest? I tell ya, sometimes the world really does seem equivalent to a nice old “Itchy & Scratchy” episode.

  11. It’s truly hard to imagine what specific skills might be required of ironworkers at a whopping $34 per hour with regard to the building of a modest mausoleum.

    It’s truly hard to imagine what specific skills might be required of mechanic at a whopping $90 per hour with regard to the fixing of a modest Honda.

    Or insert whatever you want. But I’m sure in your limited “imagination,” you could just show up at a job site and start welding in girders.

  12. If you can fix your own Honda, Mike91, then by all means go to it and save yourself some money. (I stop myself at changing my own oil and filters.)

    Even the mere idea that ironworkers should have reserved unto them the special province of erecting a modest mausoleum in a cemetery hints at some of the “kinks” that have to be worked out of the American labor movement. Unless we are talking a tomb befitting a Vanderbilt, I’m reasonably sure that even those intrepid sorts so welcome at Home Depot who erect their own backyard storage sheds could do a fairish job at Glendale. And not at $34 an hour and benefits.

    As for the welding in of girders, it is a taught task, passed on from experienced union workers to neophytes. I understand that at least as well as you do, Mike91, for all your attempted populist-sounding belligerence. Yet having met many ironworkers in my day, it is equally obvious that one does not have to even read and write passably well to perform such tasks. It may even be that the mere inflation of their traveling rat often poses technical challenges for some of these guys. Even at $34 an hour.

  13. Personally, I think that all construction for the Redevelopment Area in Bloomfield should be done with local contractors- SHOP LOCAL

  14. @roo why would local contractors cost more…I would think they would cost less because there would be no travel time.

  15. On the one hand, travel time would be less. On the other hand, if I were a local contractor and I knew the town had to use local contractors, I would know I had a little leeway to bid high. But that’s just me, and I couldn’t build my way out of a paper bag. Maybe real contractors aren’t such cynical bastards.

  16. @roo there would be lots of local competition. The lowest bid would win. If you bid high you’d lose out every time..but that’s just you. real contractor’s know how to bid a job out.

  17. Nice. Grown workers using bullying tactics to get jobs. And it is anti-bullying month.
    This all seems “anti capitalist” and “anti-free market”. I thought the government has many laws established to prevent abuses against the workers. What rights do the unions look after that the laws dont & justifies membership fees & dressing up in costumes to bully? Can someone please explain this to me? Are these grown adults really going to dress up in costume tomorrow or even just protest they weren’t chosen? Try better work to warrant the extra charges or lower the cost to be competitive.

  18. My father-in-law, who was a union worker all his life, is buried at Glendale. My husband is in a union, too. Though I have not discussed this w/ my husband (and obviously not w/ father-in-law), I feel confident both would suppor the union being there, and if I go visit my FIL tomorrow and they’re there, I’ll give them his regards.

    A whopping $34/hour? Assuming they work 40 hours/week for 52 weeks, that’s $70,7020 per year. They earn that after years of experience, and out of that I believe they contribute to their health benefits. My husband is in a different union, but our contribution is $85/week (x 52 = $4,420). This does not allow one to live large in NJ.

  19. g07003,
    I would guess that your husband is and your father-in-law was, very decent, hard working people. No disrespect here at all. $4,420 per year is no small contribution. Do you get financial reports on where this money goes and how it is spent? Do they report the infrastructure they have and salaries of the senior people?

    What types of benefits do you get in return for this annual cost. Does it cover unemployment insurance? I hear some Unions get decent retirement pay and some offer long term health coverage even after retirement. Maybe they run things better than the government. I hear the national unemployment rate is 9%, but only approx. 4% for college educated or otherwise skilled employees. I’m curious how Union member unemployment rates compare?

    Maybe Baristanet could run an article for us.

  20. allaboutthenumbers, every guy in my extended family was a union member in the construction trades. So here’s my take:

    When my dad was a sheet metal worker, he did get financial reports as part of the monthly newsletter, sent out by the international. A lot of it was the financials around what the union pension was invested in. But it seemed pretty easy to see what the infrastrucure costs were.

    While $4400 sounds like a lot, it is generally seen as a big advantage to be part of a union, especially in the construction trades. The biggest part the union played was getting the members work. So, a contractor asked the union hall for this many sheet metal workers, and if your name was at the top of the list, you went to work. After the job was over, your name goes at the bottom of the list. Guys outside the union have to find their own employment, which can take significant time and therefore money.

    And then there are the benefits, which are obviously better for union workers because they have negotiating power with employers. In the construction trades though, there’s no one company to negotiate with, so the union uses the number of people it has to negotiate health care and other benefits for its members, paid for with dues.

    It may have been that healthcare was a lot cheaper when I was growing up, but it seemed to me that our plans then covered a lot more than I have been able to get now.

  21. Mike 91,

    Thanks for the information. It sounds like a civilized way of getting union contractors to share in getting the work. I’m trying to balance the system of taking turns for work against the fundamental American values of capitalism and free-trade mentioned in Soho’s post. However, I don’t think bullying shouldn’t be the answer.

    It may be safe to say we all got more health care coverage years ago for a cheaper price (even adjusted for inflation). Insurance has gotten very expensive.

  22. The rat was back again this morning. Sorry guys, but I just find this appalling beyond reason. It’s akin to picketing outside the NICU or hospice as distraught families arrive to see their ailing loved ones. Ranks up there with people who protest at soldiers’ funerals.

    I mean, Really.

  23. Every morning I have to see that stupid Rat!? I thought they were told to take it down.

    They’d better hope I have no reason to visit the cemetery while they’re standing there with that thing.

    FOR SHAME!!!

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