Iron Workers Bring A Rat To Protest At MSU

Over the last few days, a group of  iron workers has been protesting the use of non-union labor on one of the many construction projects at Montclair State University. And they’ve brought a friend: a huge inflatable rat. The teeth-baring rodent is connected to a generator that keeps it aloft near Sprague Field on Normal Ave.

“Usually we work well with the university on big projects,” says Mike McKernan, business agent for iron workers from local 11 in Bloomfield. “But when they have a smaller project, like the announcer’s box, they sub it out and don’t pay a fair living wage.”

We’ve asked MSU to comment, and will update the story as we learn more.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. Ingrates, admittedly they’re called in for big projecs and work well with the college and now are whining about not doing a press box? Whats next the rat comes out when they have to put a new screw in to fix the rake?
    Our tax dollars help pay for these projects and I want them done quckly and less expensively and it seems MSU does as well.

  2. I wonder if these guys (and their rat) are from the same local that was picketing the Glendale cemetery for all those months. (Which was, IMO, in extremely poor taste and made me not very sympathetic to their cause.)

    I know that they have a right to protest, fine – but I kind of agree with Herb here – sheesh, you can’t even award a *small* contract to anyone else??

  3. Where are the worthies who claim to constitute Montclair State’s revived SDS chapter when an event occurs there which actually involves members of the working class? (Regardless of the right or wrong of their protest, of course.)

  4. “But when they have a smaller project, like the announcer’s box, they sub it out and don’t pay a fair living wage.”

    but, but, but…..

    cry me a river.

    Sangajango, glad you support the union. I assume you are also fine with a hike in your tuition to pay the higher labor costs associated with hiring the unions.

  5. Typical conservative ignorance “stayhyphy” & “herb…”

    1) Tuition hasn’t gone up way beyond inflation in the last 30 years to pay a living wage to workers. Tuition has gone through the roof so that the greed-boys on Wall St. don’t have to pay taxes on their billions. Both the workers and the students are getting screwed to feed the insatiable maw of the 1%.

    2) The iron workers aren’t saying they shouldn’t hire a small contractor for a small job. They are saying that the U. and the state should hire contractors, big or small, who pay workers living wages. They’ve got every right to demand that, and you should support them–well paid workers spend money and the economy grows. The untaxed casino capitalism of the 1% produces nothing and shrinks the economy.

    It’s interesting to see that the only way these anti-union, anti-student and pro-Wall St. arguments (if you can call them that) can be made is by misreading the article and distorting the facts.

  6. Killtuition…your theory on why tuition has increased is not only misinformed but completely idiotic. I suggest you educate yourself beyond OWS blather. Stayhyphy has the patience to explain if you will listen. He clearly has a background in economics and is usually willing to share his knowledge even when attacked. You will go through life very angry and frustrated if you chose to remain clueless.

  7. So lets talk economics, flipside. The thing you don’t like about OWS is: they nailed it. The problem is that more than 23% of the national income now goes to 1% of the population, and over 85% of the wealth is in the hands of the richest quintile.

    Our economic problems have nothing to do with the national debt or with the “excessive” salaries and pensions of workers: teachers, firefighters or iron workers (who in fact have only lost economic ground over the last 30 years). These are just ideological rantings which have no basis whatsoever in economic fact.

    When inequality reaches such an extreme as we now have, the economy as a whole becomes unstable and begins to break down. It has happened over and over again to the point where it characterizes the history of capitalism for the last 200+ years.

    The ruling class (the 1%) of course try to get us (the 99%) to blame each other and fight among ourselves over the scraps they leave us. Unfortunately some of us are ignorant enough of economics and politics that we drink the cool-aid (or maybe it was the tea?) and start blaming everyone except the real culprits, the bankers and CEOs who are actually running things here and in Washington.

    That’s what all this anti-worker anti-student ranting is all about. It has nothing to do with economics. You are just reading from the script given you by the rulers–playing your brain dead part in increasing their profits at our expense–which they will be happy to continue doing until the whole house of cards collapses catastrophically under the weight of excessive wealth at the top.

    Here’s what I’m wondering: I have no idea who you, flipside, or any of the others in this discussion are. You could be members of the economic elite just defending your interests. But probably not. Most likely you are members of the 99% who are getting screwed: workers, small business people, students, retirees and folks like that. So why are you so willing to bash members of your own economic class who are just trying to make a decent living? And why are you so eager to defend a grossly unjust system which is screwing you along with all the rest of us? Is it just ignorance, or is there something else going on?

  8. Killtuition, of course your chosen posting name already freights any attempt at real debate with you. Still, you might wish to stop spouting so many nonsensical left wing cliches abiut economics. (And read some Trotsky, anyway Isaac Deutscher’s biography of the man, as well as your Marx and Engels. As well as Piers Paul Read’s “Game In Heaven with Tussy Marx,” which is a novel about the old bore’s personal life and its chilling dichotomies.)

    The fact is that on the overwhelming majority of college campuses the single largest expenditure is for faculty and administration salaries. Which have absolutely NOTHING to do with Wall Street. Or do you honestly imagine that Montclair State’s new school for journos will simply appear as if by magic and without costing anybody anything? (Do you even imagine, for one moment, that Debbie Galant at her own new post at Montclair State will be uncompensated? No, that is not the way things work in academe.)

    It is also hardly “anti-union” to point out the generally higher cost of doing business with unions than with non-unionized workers. (Even Samuel Gompers, I’d bet, would agree.) Usually such costs are inescapable on campuses. At least they are for large construction projects. But we’re talking about a lousy pressbox. And we’re also talking about mouthy union members who want to put the screws on Montclair State over one of its most minor construction projects ever. Again, too, this dispute has absolutely nothing to do with Wall Street machinations or even with the sad state of the economy in general. That you maintain otherwise, seize this opportunity to run your mouth unknowledgeably and with so many dopey cliches flying as spittle, well, this does you no intellectual credit whatsoever.

  9. Cathar,

    Thanks for the reply, but you resort to name calling because, well, as with most conservatives you’re a little short on facts.

    Faculty salaries have been static for over 20 years. And 20 years ago most courses were taught by full-time tenured faculty, whereas now over two thirds of the courses are taught by part time faculty who are paid very little. So instructional costs have gone way down. Administrative costs, on the other hand, have dramatically increased. MSU has maybe ten times as many administrators and staffers as it had 20 years ago, while the student body has doubled in the same time, and administrative salaries have more than kept pace with inflation. These patterns are typical across the nation.

    But the big factor in increased tuition is decreasing funding by the state. 20 years ago state universities typically got half or more of their funding from the state. Now it’s around 25% or less.

    Why have the states been defunding their colleges and universities? One reason only: so they could cut taxes for billionaires.

    And, contrary to your claim, all of this is now directly tied to Wall St. because this is all being financed by grossly increased student debt. Student debt is now greater than credit card debt nationwide, over a trillion dollars. What’s happening with all this student debt? It’s being securitized and gambled with on Wall St. (in the same way they gambled with securitized mortgages). So not only do the billionaires pay lower taxes (as a percentage of income) than you and I do but they get to make billions more off the backs of struggling students.

    And now you’re (in typical conservative ideological fashion) advocating that the university should cheat its workers (and the workers of its contractors) out of a living wage just to pump even more money to the billionaires?

    That’s what I want to know. How can anyone in their right mind advocate such a thing? I notice you didn’t even try to answer my question.

    And thanks for the reading list, but maybe you need to do a little reading yourself and find out what’s actually going on.

  10. Faculty salaries are not “static,” killtuition. (Have you ever paged through even any random issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education?)

    And again,all this blaming of Wall Street and of “billionaires” is just silly on your part.

    Are you even a union member, as opposed to a typically hapless Occupy Wall Street supporter who only imagines himself a fast “friend” of workers?

    You really do sound obstinately mal-informed. Ah well, comes the revolution….But it ain’t coming here, kid, and that’s the point. Eugene Debs is long in his grave. So is Norman Thomas.

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