On Friday, you met John Monteith, a Charlotte, NC print shop executive who was told that he would not be awarded any contracts in conjunction with the upcoming 2012 Democratic National Convention to be held in his town because his shop was not unionized. Given that Charlotte is located in a right-to-work state, this upset John enough that he sought media attention to shine light on what he viewed to be in stark contrast to the stated goals of Mayor Anthony Foxx, a close ally of President Obama. Foxx claimed that the convention would be a boom to the Charlotte economy creating plenty of jobs for everyone and plenty of work for local businesses while fervently denying that unionization was the primary factor in decision making:
Mayor Anthony Foxx says allegations that the DNC contract steered jobs toward out of state union shops are untrue.
Foxx says, “It speaks to the use of labor within the region. This idea that someone from Alaska is gonna take a job from someone in Charlotte is absolutely ridiculous.”
And John was not alone. Charlotte company Webb & Partners were also told to look elsewhere if they weren’t unionized:
But Webb & Partners project management firm owner Sherwood Webb says he heard it straight from the horses mouth, “They said we will be using union labor.” That’s why Webb says he never made a bid.
John’s story was told throughout the media yesterday, and on the local Fox station as well. This prompted the DNC to put to bed any notions that jobs would be outsourced to unions ahead of local non-union businesses.
Committee for Charlotte 2012 Executive Director Dan Murrey said in an emailed statement, “The notion that the Host Committee will only allow unionized firms to bid is categorically untrue.”
However, on the same day the DNC was scrambling to prove how pro-local business they are, it was revealed who they awarded the work that had been denied to John Monteith’s shop. The work went to a company called Hargrove Inc, a shop that boasts its work force of more than 3,000 union personnel and hails from the union bastion of the Washington D.C. metro area. They work with the biggest names in the union market. From the Teamsters, to the Carpenters Union, union favoritism seems to be a very important reason Hargrove was selected.
The contracts were awarded following a competitive procurement process with the goal of appointing the most dynamic, diverse and innovative firms. Hargrove will partner with a group of firms including Rogers, Russell and Hunt Construction whom all have strong ties to Charlotte and the Carolinas. The team has a strong record of working with women, minority and disability-owned contractors. All of the firms demonstrated an ability to work effectively with union labor and share a commitment to sustainability. (emphasis mine)
And Hargrove isn’t simply a small player in the union marketplace. In fact, it seems to be a core element of the CEO’s strategy as noted in his description:
[Tim McGill, CEO] has been instrumental in securing Hargrove’s position as a major player in the challenging union market. (emphasis mine)
Oddly enough, I had trouble locating these union references on their website. The only way I was able to view them was to look at the cached pages from their site. According to google, this information was available on their website as recently as October 24th of this year. I wonder why they’d want to downplay their union ties?
Mayor Foxx’s opponent in the upcoming election, Scott Stone, had this to say about the contract:
The mayor can’t have it both ways. He can’t say the convention will have a $150 million local economic impact and continue to send convention contracts and jobs out-of-state.
Yet that seems to be exactly what he’s done. The dirty little secret in all of this is that since North Carolina is a right to work state, union labor will be hard to come by locally. Which means locals will have two choices: join a union, or don’t get the job. Right to work just became Forced to Unionize in North Carolina.
I wonder what room Mayor Foxx and the DNC believe exists for non-union shops when they ship in a company from the the Washington, D.C. area and that company subsequently makes clear that it to will only work with union shops? For Heritage Print & Visual and Webb & Partners, there wasn’t much room at all.
Thanks to The Right Scoop, Kris the Talker, and Labor Union Report for contributing to this article.