Support Grows Against Union Action

A bannering campaign by local and regional Carpenter’s Union organizations against Tulsa drywall subcontractor Green Country Interiors Inc. has drawn together the support of dozens of members of the local construction industry against the union’s methods.
In a recent print advertising campaign initiated by Green Country and supported and signed by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Oklahoma and 44 members of the construction industry, those entities encourage readers to call the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and tell them to “stop harassing the citizens of our community.”
Green Country, its primary owner, David Hannagan, and several of its clients have been targeted by the union in its bannering campaign. The advertisement shows union banners proclaiming “SHAME ON” Hannagan, Crowne Plaza and Catholic Charities.
It’s message reads: “We, the people of Tulsa say, ‘Stop the attacks against our city.’”
“Like you, we believe in the U.S Constitution and the right to free speech. However, we also believe in the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“Local labor unions and their out of state allies are protesting reputable companies and individuals that create jobs and have given back to Tulsa for decades.
“The protests have often led to unfounded personal attacks.
“These union interests have even used the local homeless population to carry out these attacks.
“Free speech is a staple of our society, but untrue allegations are despicable and un-American.”
Starting with a bannering campaign at the downtown Tulsa Crowne Plaza Hotel in April 2007, the action by the local Union 943 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and the Arkansas Regional Council of Carpenters has been largely concentrated on bannering and handbilling at a number of sites where Green Country is working or has worked.
Those activities have primarily been limited to Green Country client locations, including the Crowne Plaza, Hillcrest and Saint Francis hospitals, IBC Bank and the Mayo Hotel, but earlier this year the union expanded its campaign to include Green Country’s office, Hannagan’s residential neighborhood and Southern Hills Country Club, where he is a member.
“They are still doing the same thing,” Hannagan said. “They are in front of my neighborhood every morning and Catholic Charities. They are still picketing Saint Francis.”
Industry Supporters
The union’s expanded campaign spurred Hannagan to begin his own public information efforts, including retaining public relations firm Schnake Turnbo Frank | PR and organizing his advertising campaign.
He said he found strong support among ABC members.
“I actually wrote the check for the ad, and many of those people donated funds, so I actually got back about half of it,” he said, although he lamented the effort may not have much effect, “except make me feel better.”
But Carl Williams, president and CEO of ABC Oklahoma, said the names that appear on the ad represent only some of the companies that have come out in support of Green Country and against the union’s activities.
“It’s a tremendous show of support,” he said. “We have had quite a number of more companies, primarily ABC members, who wanted to have their name added and there wasn’t enough time.”
He said ABC, which includes some companies signatory to unions, “is not anti-union by any means. We just believe in free and open competition.”
“We feel like a company should have the right to run its business in a manner that it sees fit regardless of labor affiliation, and when labor tries to instill their beliefs and their agenda on someone that disagrees with it, it just flies in the face of open and free competition,” he said. “I think the bannering that has been happening is unfortunate.”
Reflecting the opinion of many of the supporters, Tulsa-based construction giant Flintco cited Green Country’s reputation in giving its support.
“As a 100-plus year corporate citizen of Tulsa, Flintco enjoys strong relationships with many reputable, local subcontractors. Regardless of a company’s affiliation with the union, we would support any of the subcontractors who bid regularly on our projects and performed consistently well,” said Dave Kollmann, president of Flintco. “Green Country Interiors has had exemplary performance and we support their leadership.”
The union activities are part of an area standards campaign intended to notify the public that “the union believes that Green Country is paying inadequate and substandard wages and benefits for the Tulsa area,” said Jay Youngdahl, attorney for the local and regional carpenters union organizations and managing partner of Texas-based labor champion Youngdahl Law Firm, P.C.
“The ultimate goal is just frankly a publicity campaign,” Youngdahl said. “The workers are not on strike. It is a campaign to bring to the attention of the public the fact that Green Country, the union believes, is paying substandard wages and benefits and these substandard wages and benefits are having an effect on the living conditions and working conditions of people in the Tulsa area.”
While the union has not provided figures it considers adequate, Green Country said its hourly wage for journeymen is $14 to $18 an hour.
Union Tactics Criticized
Some in the industry think the union’s methods are damaging its standing in the area.
Jamie Williams, co-owner of Tulsa-based Wiljo Interiors Inc., which was listed as a supporter in the Green Country advertisement, characterized the union’s activities as “bullying tactics.”
“ABC and Green Country gave us the option to keep our name out (of the advertisement),” just so we would not be part of the attack,” he said. “I quit getting bullied a long time ago, and I’m not going to let someone come in here and bully us now. I think we live in a country where if I want to be union or non-union, or my guys want to be union or non-union, that’s really our decision — not theirs. I support Green Country because I think that is the right thing to do.”
Although Green Country and Wiljo are competitors, Williams said he does not think the union’s activities are “fair.”
“I don’t have anything against those guys at Green Country. It’s just competition,” he said. “I worked for Green Country for a long time and I was also in the union for a long time, and I made a lot better money at Green Country than I ever made at the union. I worked union and non-union and the benefits and money and everything is better non-union – at least in this state. You go to New York or New Jersey, it may be different.”
“If Oklahoma was to become a union state, we would just become a union contractor – it’s not that big a deal. It’s just a cost of doing business,” Williams said. “But now after them (the union) doing this, I don’t know that I would ever want to do that. It is just kind of embarrassing.”

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