Tag Archive for Associated Builders and Contractors (National)

Sam Cook, One of the Intellectual Leaders of the Merit Shop Philosophy, Passes the Baton to a New Generation

The Baltimore Metro Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) emailed a special announcement this morning (November 1, 2012):

One of the Chief ‘Architects’ of ABC’s Early Legal Battles, Passes

ABC’s first General Counsel, Sam Cook, played a role in ABC’s early growth

Sam Cook, one of ABC’s “Leaders of the Century” and author of the history of ABC, Freedom In The Workplace, passed away yesterday in Baltimore, Maryland. He was 91 years old.

As labor attorney for ABC National and many ABC chapters and members for several decades beginning in the 1960’s, Sam was chiefly responsible for defending and advancing the merit shop philosophy during a period of unrelenting attacks on ABC’s existence. He contributed greatly to ABC’s remarkable growth nationwide during those years, enabling the merit shop philosophy to become a dominant force in the construction industry. In retirement, his book on ABC was hailed as a serious and critical analysis of the victory of free enterprise over autocracy, while at the same time reflecting Sam’s great humor and leadership insights.

Sam also founded the labor law practice at Venable Baetjer and Howard, Maryland’s oldest law firm, and was a recognized dean of the bar representing management in all aspects of labor and employment law. He was active in numerous civic and community affairs in Baltimore. He is survived by his wife Bernie Cook and two children.

A. Samuel Cook was one of the Ivy League-educated ABC leaders (along with John P. Trimmer and Dr. Herbert R. Northrup) who developed and articulated the intellectual principles behind the Merit Shop Philosophy adopted by leading construction contractors whose employees chose not to belong or be represented by a union. This well-defined philosophy is what makes Associated Builders and Contractors distinct among the nation’s major business associations. It’s the reason why I applied to work at ABC and remained with the organization for more than 17 years. I was able to interact with Mr. Cook, Mr. Trimmer, and Dr. Northrup in the latter years of their involvement with the fight for economic and personal freedom.

Here is a 2005 review of Sam Cook’s Freedom In The Workplace: The Untold Story Of Merit Shop Construction’s Crusade Against Compulsory Trade Unionism written on www.Amazon.com by David Denholm, president of the Public Service Research Foundation:

Freedom in the Workplace July 26, 2005

By David Y. Denholm

5.0 out of 5 stars

When I got a copy of “Freedom In The Workplace” by Samuel Cook, I put it aside thinking that it was a history of the Associated Builders and Contractors and that I would read it when I had the time.

I was sadly mistaken! When I finally did get around to taking a look at it, I wished that I had put it on the top of my reading list the moment it arrived.

This book is a sheer delight for anyone interested in labor unions. It is a history of the ABC but it is much, much more than that. It is a romp through the history of labor law and unionism (with a strong emphasis on construction) told by an excellent writer with much first hand experience. Sam Cook was the general counsel to the ABC during the tumultuous years.

It is lovable in parts when it quotes union bosses in dialect like, “as long as I’m da business manager ah dis Council in no way – an’ I mean, in no way – will Philly or da close counties become anotha Balimore.”

As if that weren’t enough, almost every page has a pithy quote from sources ranging from Sophocles “Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law,” to Rodney Dangerfield “Sometimes life is a bowl of pits.” There must be almost a thousand of these little gems and they alone are worth the price of the book.

“Freedom in the Workplace” goes way beyond a history of the ABC. The chapter on “Bombs, Briefcases and the Cycle of Liberty” takes a broad philosophical view of the organized labor, politics and the future.

“Freedom in the Workplace” is extensively indexed, which is a great help to people like me who start reading a book from the index. But once I got started it was hard to put it down. It is also extensively footnoted and will serve as a reference for a wide variety of scholarly, legal and political interests.

If you are at all interested in labor unions, you owe it to your self to get and read “Freedom in the Workplace.” The people most in need of it, unfortunately, may not buy it so consider getting two copies and giving one to a construction union official or a lawyer who represents unions. Better yet, buy three and send one to the library at your alma matta. You can just bet that this book isn’t going to be high on the list for library acquisitions for most liberal academics.

The country’s state universities are loaded with professors who study, research, teach, and publish labor history from a pro-union, leftist perspective. Sam Cook and his work provided an important counterbalance, both in academia and in practical application in labor relations.

The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal – Book Forum for This New Publication

Tomorrow (Wednesday, October 17, 2012) at noon Eastern time (9:00 a.m. Pacific time), the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. will hold a forum on the new book The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal.

The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal

The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal

Here’s the Cato Institute’s description of the book forum:

Featuring the author Armand Thieblot, Olin Institute, George Mason University; with comments by Maurice Baskin, Partner, Venable, LLP, and co-author of Construction Union Tactics to Regain Jobs and Public Policy; moderated by James A. Dorn, Editor, Cato Journal, and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Cato Institute.

Advance copies of the book will be exclusively available at the forum. Online registration for this event is now closed. If you are interested in registering for the event please email events@cato.org. If you can’t make it to the Cato Institute, watch this event live online at www.cato.org/live and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #CatoEvents. Also follow @CatoEvents on Twitter to get future event updates, live streams, and videos from the Cato Institute.

The Davis-Bacon Act, the law that sets wages typically at or near the union rate for workers on billions of dollars worth of public works annually, has afflicted the construction industry for eight full decades. Obsolete and impossible to administer fairly when first passed in 1931, it has not improved since. It has been actively sustained through biased participation by the Department of Labor for the exclusive benefit of organized labor. If not repealed, Davis-Bacon will add billions of dollars of unnecessary costs to public works built over the next decade. Armand Thieblot, a longtime student of the act, documents some major reasons—in addition to cost savings—to repeal it, and shows why actions short of repeal will not be effective. Repeal of Davis-Bacon early in the coming administration will provide major stimulus to a construction industry that desperately needs the help.

When I began working for Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in January 1995 as the Manager of State Affairs, one of my first duties was the promotion and distribution of Dr. Armand Thieblot’s 1995 report State Prevailing Wage Laws: An Assessment at the Start of 1995. As the general counsel for Associated Builders and Contractors, Maury Baskin provided me with advice and guidance during my more than 17 years in government affairs management positions for ABC National, ABC of California, and the ABC Golden Gate Chapter (now known as the ABC Northern California Chapter).

What Happened to the Pacific Research Institute? California Needs a Policy Institute That Inspires and Dominates Intellectual Discussion about an Alternative Way to Govern the State

The leftist magazine Mother Jones published an article today (July 19, 2012) critical of the President and CEO and the operations of the Pacific Research Institute, a free market think tank based in San Francisco. I am an Adjunct Fellow in Labor Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, although I probably won’t be after I post this commentary on my Dayton Public Policy Institute blog.

Here’s my perspective on this matter.

Once innovative, creative, and on the cutting edge of policy initiatives, many American free market think tanks in 2012 appear to be developing into a stagnant, protective, incestuous club of interlocking directorates and eccentrics who enjoy socializing in urban intellectual salons. This culture will react strongly against any outside pleas to reform the remnants of their comfortable “movement.” No version of the Tea Party has yet emerged among free market-oriented intellectuals to topple the decaying edifice and energetically rebuild it with fresh thinking and ambitious strategic planning.

The Pacific Research Institute perhaps excels among the thousands of people and organizations in this country who are trying to make a living pontificating about Obamacare. But is there any unique angle or aspect about Obamacare that still remains to be chewed on? While bashing Obamacare attracts attention and excitement, even I’m tired of it – I change the radio station whenever a talk show host begins rehashing it. (I recommend reading the June 28, 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision and dissent in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius for fresh, thoughtful perspectives on Obamacare.)

Meanwhile, the State of California and many of its local governments are careening toward bankruptcy while most citizens of the state are wringing their hands in helplessness. Almost everyone in this state knows something is terribly wrong (even the union officials and the union-backed politicians know it), but the state utterly lacks a recognized free market organization with a message that can effectively subvert the entrenched, self-preserving syndicate of politicians, big corporations, unions, and media. Some sort of intellectual force needs to develop and advance a thoughtful, principled alternative to the current way in which the state is governed.

The people of California desperately need a strong, vocal, prominent free market policy institute that not only identifies the numerous economic and governance problems in the State of California, but also proposes audacious, concrete long-term solutions that ordinary citizens can understand and support. The Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco should have that role. It has not held it for many years.

My Early Background with the Pacific Research Institute

I first met a Pacific Research Institute policy analyst – former Director of the Center for Enterprise and Opportunity Katherine Post – in Washington, D.C. in the mid-1990s. I was surprised and impressed to learn that a free market think tank was based in San Francisco.

When I began government affairs work for Associated Builders and Contractors in California in 1997, the Pacific Research Institute’s Senior Fellow in Education Studies Lance Izumi was one of the first people I met in the public policy arena. In the early 2000s, the Pacific Research Institute recognized my professional expertise on complex and costly construction labor issues and designated me as their one and only fellow in Labor Issues. I saw Milton Friedman at the institute’s 25th anniversary gala in San Francisco in September 2004.

The Pacific Research Institute especially took an interest in my lonely work researching and exposing a taxpayer-funded union propaganda program at the University of California, established in 2000 with $6 million in direct funding in the California state budget signed by Governor Gray Davis. I worked extensively on this and other labor issues with the Pacific Research Institute’s former Business and Economic Studies Director Lawrence McQuillan (now chief economist at the Illinois Policy Institute) and also with its former Editorial Director Lloyd Billingsley (author of Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s).

Selected twice by the Pacific Research Institute for its Golden Fleece Award, the University of California Labor Program was an especially appropriate state issue for the Pacific Research Institute to examine and expose. Other than my employer (Associated Builders and Contractors), no other prominent organization in California was taking a leadership role in publicly criticizing the University of California Labor Program, even as the Labor Program grew to serve as the intellectual foundation of the California Labor Federation‘s political agenda at the California State Legislature and at California local governments. (The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association did include the program in its lists of unnecessary, wasteful, inappropriate government programs, but it necessarily had to focus on a thousand other examples of California fiscal foolishness.)

While independent free market-oriented think tanks such as the Pacific Research Institute rely on corporations, foundations, and individuals to fund their policy research, the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California simply obtained taxpayer funding to start and maintain what should have been their own self-funded research and marketing program. To add insult to injury to California taxpayers, the Labor Program was hosted at the University of California, so union officials and their academic sycophants could add a degree of credibility to their phony and biased reports, web sites, and news releases by stamping the respected UC logo and name on them.

Neither Associated Builders and Contractors nor I had any sort of written or unwritten financial agreement with the Pacific Research Institute for any of its research and exposure concerning the UC Labor Program. The Pacific Research Institute staff was outraged about the taxpayer funding for the program and filled a policy vacuum by investigating it and reporting on it for several years, thus providing a valuable service to California taxpayers and businesses.

In 2002, I Propose to the Pacific Research Institute That It Establish the Nation’s First Free Market-Oriented Labor Studies Center

Here are a few excerpts of my October 10, 2002 memorandum to Pacific Research Institute officials, entitled “Proposal for Labor Studies Center at the Pacific Research Institute.”

New Union Think Tank Challenges Free Market Economics in California

At the request of the California Labor Federation, the California state legislature has provided a total of $17 million in the past three state budgets to establish and operate a “Multi-Campus Research Unit for Labor Studies” at U.C. Berkeley and UCLA. With taxpayer funding and the academic credibility of the University of California behind it, this “union think tank” has quickly become a powerful political tool for organized labor.

An Orange County Register editorial describes this union think tank as “a thinly veiled payoff to organized labor activists.” As cited in the same editorial, Associated Builders and Contractors contends that “studies and papers produced by this union think tank lack academic merit but make useful propaganda for the unions to advance their political agenda at the state and local levels.”

Legislators and news media now regularly cite the dozens of studies already produced by the union think tank, including studies on living wage and the supposed negative impact on the poor that would result from the breakup of Los Angeles. Directors for the union think tank have essentially become the media spokespeople for the union political agenda, displacing the angry rhetoric of union lobbyists with the calm impartiality of supposedly thoughtful university intellectuals. As one union leader said when presenting a union think tank study during a recent Antioch City Council meeting, “It’s from a college. Written by a doctor.”

There’s a Vacuum Where Opposing Views Should Be Heard

California lacks a clear voice from the free market perspective on the immediate labor issues before state and local governments. Responses from industry representatives and elected officials to union initiatives have often been lackluster or even apologetic. Unions and their Democrat supporters portray industry positions on proposed legislation as self-interested and motivated by corporate greed, and there lacks an alternative source of information to back industry positions.

On the national level, many of the intellectual champions of free market economics against the unions during the union heyday of the 1950s and 1960s have retired or died … compared to the prolific union think tank, output is minimal.

Pacific Research Institute Can Fill the Vacuum and Provide Balance

For a few years now, I’ve seen the need for an intellectual operation in California to challenge some of the unions’ academic production that is blindsiding business associations and interest groups. For example, when the UCLA union think tank and the California Research Bureau simultaneously issued studies in the fall of 2001 to support a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for construction of U.C. Merced, opponents of PLAs lacked opposition studies. Studies and comments against the union political agenda from outside the political world could provide some balance on labor issues in the media and in Sacramento.

I believe that creating a Labor Studies Center at the already established Pacific Research Institute could be a solution. I have not been able to identify a purely research-oriented free market institute for Labor Studies anywhere in the country.

Although my proposal sparked some interest at the Pacific Research Institute, especially after the October 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis and replacement with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Labor Studies Center was never established, and the country still lacks anything like it.

My Relationship Fades with the Pacific Research Institute

On August 30, 2009, the San Jose Mercury-News published an opinion piece written by me under my title of Adjunct Fellow in Labor Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. It exposed the documented behind-the-scenes politics leading to a decision at the highest levels of the University of California administration to divert $4 million from other purposes to the University of California Labor Program, which had its annual budget appropriation vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2008. This op-ed stirred up a lot of controversy.

But the Pacific Research Institute seemed to be retreating from important issues at the state level. I was quoted and cited as a source in a comprehensive report released by the Pacific Research Institute in March 2011 outlining weaknesses and proposing solutions concerning California’s public records access laws (Bringing More Sunshine to California: How to Expand Open Government in the Golden State). I was disappointed at how little attention the Pacific Research Institute received for this well-documented, thoughtful report about another policy arena in which California governance is failing.

Then the Pacific Research Institute laid off some people I knew, and subsequently a few others I knew left for other employment – some to other states. The Pacific Research Institute was ditching California policy issues, while its staff – highly informed Californian policy experts – was simply moving out of the state for better opportunities. (Good riddance, I’m sure many leaders in this state are saying about those departures as they eagerly anticipate the bounty from higher tax rates on the people who are left.)

I’m guessing the unflattering profile in Mother Jones magazine will not alter the priorities of the Pacific Research Institute. I’m now waiting for the emergence of a new free market think tank, based near the state capitol in Sacramento and influential in changing the hopes and plans of the people of California. It would be ideal to see the Pacific Research Institute revitalized to tackle this ambitious project, but I expect someone outside of the traditional culture of free market think tanks will need to start it from scratch.

There, Fixed It: “Know Your ABC”

Today the Washington, D.C.-based Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO launched a new program trying to undermine the credibility of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). From 1995 through March 2012, I held various government affairs management positions with ABC, first at the national office in Washington, D.C., then with the Golden Gate Chapter in Northern California as the Vice President of Government Affairs, and then with ABC of California as its State Government Affairs Director. Now I’m gone from ABC and newly emerged as the President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, with its research project, the Dayton Public Policy Institute.

So I escaped the latest union blanket accusation of using the “dark arts.” Nevertheless, for old time’s sake, I’m correcting the important, ponderous prose of the introductory paragraphs on the new union web site “Know Your ABC” at http://www.knowyourabc.com:

During any number of dark periods in human history, the forces who set their designs upon absolute power and oppression subscribed to the theory that an endless stream of lies and distortions was central to achieving their aims. It was, and still is, known as propaganda, and its primary objective is to persuade people of what those seeking power and control think is right – regardless of the facts. To those seeking power, propaganda does not have to be popular, nor does is (sic) it have to be intellectually pleasing, because, according to the theory, it is not the goal of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.

In our modern system of political debate and discourse, those tenets have, unfortunately, been embraced and put into practice by various ideologues and extreme organizations. And nowhere are the dark arts of political propaganda being deployed with such outsized exactitude than inside the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, and their regional and local affiliates. The distortions, falsehoods and outright lies being consistently perpetrated by the ABC construction union political machine when it comes to issues such as prevailing wage laws and project labor agreements (PLAs), are prime examples of the ABC’s Big Labor’s aggressive and disciplined devotion to the propaganda playbook.

Some might consider this to be the most powerful manifesto written since the Port Huron Statement, although others might consider it ripe for parody. I never considered ABC to be a practitioner of the “dark arts.” Seventeen years ago ABC was known as The Mean Team, because “…it is tenacious and favors the take-no-prisoners approach to litigation and lobbying…it’s just another day at the office for the ABC’s pugnacious team.” But maybe things are different now in this dark period of human history.

Here’s the press release announcing the introduction of the “Know Your ABC” program, with its “special” report written by a faculty member of the soon-to-be campus-free National Labor College:

America’s Labor Leaders to Release Major Study on the Associated Builders and Contractors

California angle: Notice that “on the call and available for comment” is Bob Balgenorth of the “California State Building Trades Council.”

Libertarian Party Nominee for President Has Background with Associated Builders and Contractors

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson easily won the Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States at the party’s national convention in Las Vegas today. Johnson was a Republican when he served as governor (for the state’s two-term limit) from 1995 to 2003. He briefly ran for the Republican nomination for President in 2011, but dropped out even before the Iowa caucuses.

Johnson founded the construction company Big J Enterprises, which eventually employed more than 1000 workers and was a member of Associated Builders and Contractors in what was then the Rio Grande Chapter (now called the New Mexico Chapter). He sold the company in 1999. It remains an ABC member today.

During his time as Governor of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson won a Free Enterprise Champion of the Year award from ABC National in recognition of his unwavering stance in support of the Merit Shop philosophy. He wanted to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law and opposed Project Labor Agreements.

Nativo Lopez Retires from Public Life, Nine Years After “I Became a Target of the Wrath of the ABC”

Orange County professional political activist Nativo Lopez announced on April 30 that he is retiring from public life and resigning his leadership positions with groups such as Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana (formerly known as Hermandad Mexicana Nacional) and the Mexican American Political Association.

Best known for his work defending illegal immigrants and bilingual education, Lopez also dabbled in construction labor issues. As an elected board member for the Santa Ana Unified School District, he was part of the 4-1 majority that voted on March 14, 2000 to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for construction funded by Measure C, a $145 million bond approved by 70% of Santa Ana voters in June 1998. In that election, voters had no inkling that the school board would subsequently give unions a monopoly on school construction funded by their taxes.

See the Santa Ana Unified School District Project Labor Agreement here. (It was not renewed by later school boards and terminated as of June 9, 2005.)

See news coverage of the Santa Ana Unified School District Project Labor Agreement and its consequences here, including the November 2003 admission of the district’s facilities director that the Project Labor Agreement increased the costs of construction.

In February 2003, almost three years after the school board mandated that its construction contractors sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions, 70% of voters recalled Lopez. Unions tried to keep their ally in office with a series of mailers to voters (see three of them here), but apparently the voters of Santa Ana were fed up with Lopez’s endless agitation over bilingual education and the failure of the Measure C construction program to build schools in a timely and cost-effective manner.

On January 7, 2004, Lopez was a guest on the Berkeley-based KPFA (Pacifica) weekly labor show, “David Bacon on Labor,” along with Victor Narro, director of the Downtown Labor Center in Los Angeles (an operation of the taxpayer-funded Institute for Labor and Employment at the University of California, now absorbed into the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program). Lopez blamed my former employer Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in part for his recall. Below is a paraphrasing of the remarks, which you can hear starting at 48:10 of this podcast:

The Morning Show – January 7, 2004 at 7:00am

Click to listen (or download)

 

Bacon (to Narro) – Now your funding is being cut by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Your group received the wrath of ABC, Associated Builders and Contractors, the group for non-union contractors that got the governor to pull that out from the budget.

Narro – They’ve been targeting us for a few years now. We face elimination this month and the closing of the Downtown Labor Center. We’re fighting like crazy to save the program with a foundation like the California Endowment. We do research strengthening the labor movement.

Bacon (to Lopez) – Nativo Lopez, I understand you also were a target of the ABC.

Lopez – Oh yes, “a very nice group.” I was on the school board in Santa Ana and shepherded a proposal to create a PLA, signed between the school district and the building trades, much to the chagrin of ABC. (Explains a PLA.) It was the only agreement of that character in California. I became a target of the wrath of the ABC with the Republicans in Orange County and Ron Unz. They tried to recall me, ABC was a big contributor. They were successful. I thank the ABC and Ron Unz, “because they really freed me up” to do organizing work for immigrants.

Lopez appeared to be an exception to my axiom that “behind every Project Labor Agreement is a politician with ambition for higher office.” He truly seemed to believe in the causes of the anti-establishment Left and pursued them relentlessly. He was entangled in many controversies, including a guilty plea in 2011 for one felony count of voter registration fraud (by registering to vote using his business as his address), as he sought to advance his agenda.

Here’s some of his parting wisdom from his retirement announcement:

…What I have learned over close to half a century is that the capacity of capitalism to re-invent itself, to absorb its losses and re-adapt, but most importantly, to beguile, co-opt, and corrupt its opponents and the general citizenry, is truly astonishing. It utilizes its political parties (of differing persuasions), private foundations, tax code, public institutions, corporations of all categories, churches – traditional, new age, and evangelical, – its monopolized media, public and private education, its regulatory agencies, statutes and codes, lawyers, judges, and courts, and the public administrative bureaucracy, etc. to induce consent of the citizenry. And when consent is not secured by voluntary means, it has at its disposal the ever-ready repressive tentacles of the state apparatus to crush any and all opposition and dissent, however miniscule, to thus compel consent, and performance.

Never in the history of human-kind has an imperial power of planetary dimension had available to it the reserve of monetary and human capital resources to induce consent of the governed by voluntary and involuntary means, and even extra-legal measures, as does these United States of America…

Inflatable Rat Balloon Gets Swelled Head: Targets Big Banks Instead of Non-Union Local Contractors

The union inflatable rat balloon is regularly in the news and maintains cult status among people who follow construction labor issues. It has even earned its own Wikipedia entry. Allegedly developed 22 years ago by a company near Chicago, the inflatable rat has been a symbol long used by construction unions to bug (and sometimes delight) Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and its member companies in California and across the country.

I was dismayed today to see that a construction union apparently lent Scabby to a different crowd – the Occupy Wall Street movement in San Francisco. An inflatable rat balloon was on display on Monday, April 24 and today at a multi-day protest in San Francisco outside the meeting of the Wells Fargo annual shareholder meeting.

The photo at this link was the lead on today’s “Featured Photo Gallery” of San Francisco’s KGO Channel 7 News web site: Protesters at Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting – Photo 2 of 8.

I was unable to determine using the web which union actually owned the rat, although it is mentioned in numerous blogs and news articles, including this from the Los Angeles Times: Protesters Disrupt Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting – April 25, 2012

Any Wells Fargo executive or major shareholder who saw this rat might be confused about what message it’s sending to bankers. Notice the rat is wearing an orange construction vest and wears a hard hat that says “Safety Last.”

I suspect a construction union in Northern California allowed its long-recognized symbol of opposition to the Merit Shop to be borrowed for a few days for a protest of the business practices of one of the biggest banks in the United States. Apparently it’s too pedestrian in this day and age to limit the job of rat balloons to the harrassment of family-owned contractors performing tenant improvements at chain restaurants and budget hotels in obscure Bay Area suburban towns.

Keeping an inflatable rat (often costing several thousand dollars) from experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) is still a job best reserved for the professional union tradesman. As you can see in this Reuters photo, not all went well with the anti-ABC rat turned anti-Wall Street rat.

Demonstrators Try to Contain a Deflating Balloon of a Wall Street Rat… – April 24, 2012