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.