Union Yes? Maybe Not

For the first time: picketers scared of the camera.

For several days last week, a labor protest broke out on the streets of downtown Seattle. "Labor Dispute," read the large banner unfurled in front of the Wells Fargo Center at Third and Madison. "Shame on Moss Adams LLP."

Three ladies stood holding the sign. They handed out leaflets depicting a rat chewing an American flag. Moss Adams, the flyer said, was guilty of "Desecration of the American Way of Life." According to the flyer, put out by the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Moss Adams was using a subcontractor that pays a "substandard wage."

This appeared to have something to do with an office building in Portland. But it was hard to know for sure. One of the women holding the sign said she was under instructions not to say anything—to just simply hand out the flyer. She said they weren't part of the union but were just hired to stand there. The women did not want to be photographed holding the sign, and one hid behind it when a camera came out.

All of which raised questions about what sort of labor standards the union itself was upholding. When a union staffer, Pedro Espinoza, drove up later to cart away the rolled-up sign, he said the women, who declined to provide their names, were indeed members of the union.

The flyer suggested calling the Portland office of the carpenters' union for more information. Messages left there were not returned.

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