Well, I guess I’ve seen it all now. Without any notice or any previous contact with our church, the local carpenters’ union has decided to wage a public protest in front of our church.

It began Friday and continued through this weekend with a huge 4 foot by 20 foot banner that says:  SHAME ON NORTH COAST CHURCH (with the words “Labor Dispute” on the outside edges of the sign).

Apparently the union has an ongoing dispute with one of the companies that our general contractor has hired in the construction of our new campus. So they’ve decided to strong arm us. I say apparently because despite protesting daily with a huge sign declaring, “Shame on North Coast,” they’ve yet to even try to contact with anyone at the church.

Two more things to note:

[list type=”ul” style=”5″]We’ve been told this is their method of operation and they will be standing in front of the church with their huge sign every day (weekends included) until our project is completed sometime next year – or, I suppose, until we do whatever it is they want us to do.^We are using lots of other union contractors on the job.[/list]

So how should we respond? As I see it, we have four primary options.

[list type=”ol” style=”2″]Give In and Remove The Company The Union Has A Problem With.
That doesn’t seem like an option to me. But it obviously does to the union. All we have to do is fire the subcontractor they don’t like and hire them to do the dry walling (by the way, at an additional cost of about $180,000). Now that would be fun to explain to the folks who have sacrificially donated to this project. “Thanks for your money; and by the way, we’ve used it to hire the highest bidders in a effort to stimulate the economy.”^Ignore Them.
I don’t think many people will have much sympathy for the protesters. In this economy everyone is trying to save money just to survive. Few expect or want a church to pay top dollar with donated funds for a construction project (and that’s what most people will think this is about – and what it’s about). So why not rake in a little free publicity and the sympathy that comes from being the victim of some strong-armed tactics by the carpenters’ union?^Get Our Own Sign.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to get our own matching sign that said: “SHAME ON THE CARPENTER’S UNION FOR STRONG-ARMING A CHURCH”? Or maybe we could ask, “Why does the carpenters’ union hire non-English speaking, non-union members to hold their signs?” Or maybe, “We saved $180,000 ticking these guys off!” That might get a little notice in the local press – giving us a chance to state our case.^Seek To Remove All Union Carpenters From Our Project.
Frankly, I have no idea if this would even be possible. Contracts have been signed. But if the union leadership wants to strong-arm us into submission – I’m not sure why we want to hire their members – or trust them to do a good job on the project.[/list]

So, okay, what would you do?

What would Jesus do?