Laborers’ sign misdirects anger


Christina Largie

It’s hard to ignore the eye-catching new sign at the main entrance of the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus. Written in large red letters, it reads: Shame On University of Miami. For weeks now, carpenter craft workers involved in a labor dispute have held up this sign everyday, rain or shine.

According to the carpenters, the Lotspeich Group, which performed construction work at the RSMAS campus, does not pay area standard wages. A flyer that the workers hand out to interested spectators explains that area standard wages include healthcare and retirement benefits.

The carpenters believe that UM has a responsibility to intervene in their labor dispute. It is imperative that their employer provide them with the proper benefits, but it is not necessary for them to hold up a distracting sign in front of a well-regarded institution.

The sign gives visitors a bad impression of UM. The words on the sign make it easy to misinterpret the issue. It seems as though the Florida Carpenters Regional Council (FCRC) has filed a labor dispute with the university itself. But in actuality, it is filed against an outside company that UM hired.

This has nothing to with the university. The Lotspeich Group just so happened to do construction for UM. The carpenters might as well hold similar signs in front of all other locations that contracted Lotspeich.

It’s easy to understand why these carpenters would like to earn their proper benefits. However, they have other ways to make their opinions heard that don’t involve tarnishing the name of UM.

These carpenters are using UM as a scapegoat for problems caused by a separate employer. As a result, UM’s reputation and physical aesthetic are being ruined over a dispute in which it is not directly involved. Shame on the laborers.


Christina Largie is a freshman majoring in public relations.

September 18, 2013


Christina Largie

9 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Laborers’ sign misdirects anger”

  1. Art Francisco says:

    I am happy to read the comments above of those who stand firm with their class-THE WORKING CLASS. The class traitor Christina Largie could have done the same, but instead she has chosen to kiss the ass of the project owners–in this case the UM which represents the capitalist class.

    As many have pointed out, she is obviously ignorant in how contracts and labor relations work in these issues, by mistaking Carpenters for Laborers–, but there is a grain of truth in that. Carpenters are Workers! Laborers are Workers! And that is exactly what Largie means when she writes her petite-bourgeois (without any class analysis) piece that belongs in the garbage heap.

    We must stand in solidarity as workers, and it is in our interest to fight the economic struggle for basic necessities like healthcare (so we and our families can be taken care of when sick) and retirement (so we can be taken care of when we are too old to work). Largie doesn’t seem to think that is the owner’s concern, the owner who in this case is a PUBLIC university funded by tax dollars, who contracts out the work with SPECIFICATIONS to the Lotspeich Group. Well I’ve got news for ya–you’re not pullin’ any wool over our eyes! It is their problem!

    Solidarity forever! May the working class rule the world!

  2. Shannon Layer says:

    This has everything to do with the UM as they are the ones that hired/contracted The Lotspeich Group to do work on their campus. If they have Responsibly Bidder and Apprenticeship Utilization language on their contracts and insured that the contractor was using legal workers and paying a livable wage then signs would not be in place. By ignoring these issues they are promoting illegal workers and substandard wages.
    And the author should really do more research before writing an article and be sure that she uses the same people in her writing, Carpenters and Laborers are two completely different unions.

  3. Ron Hebron says:

    Get it right PR major. It IS the Carpenters that are bringing shame on the University, NOT the Laborers.
    Even if you had identified us properly when you were wagging your uneducated keyboard at us, We would be proud to bring attention to these robbers cloaked as educators.
    I thought it would be impossible, but in crediting Laborers with this Icon of free speech, you brought more shame on yourself. Get a real education before you try to assail Us, and even then, expect to fail. Bring it on.

  4. Angelica says:

    “This has nothing to with the university. The Lotspeich Group just so happened to do construction for UM. The carpenters might as well hold similar signs in front of all other locations that contracted Lotspeich.”

    Christina, what are you even talking about? How do you fail to see the connection between the Lotspeich Group and UM? Do you think UM has no choice in which company it hires?
    You are right, however: the carpenters might as well hold signs up in all of the locations that have contracted their employers. They’ve probably picked UM precisely because it will bring a lot of attention to the issue, perhaps from students who care about labor rights (shockingly, those exist).

  5. Rebecca Garcia says:

    I do not agree with this author’s assertion. I think she is expressing a misconstrued vision as to what truly occurs within the political dynamics and power plays between the subcontractor and the university administration. We cannot attribute shame to anyone. To do so draws even more negativity upon the socioeconomic plight of the worker, who always deserves justice. While I do not necessarily agree either with the tactics that the subcontractor is employing in respect to its publicity, this article simply perpetuates the privileged notion that one simply criticize the worker without truly comprehending the situation.

  6. Tony Edwards says:

    This company did not “just so happen to do contstruction for UM”. UM hired the contractor and is responsible for who they hire. Just the same as if I went to Wal Mart, I would be supporting sweat shops and child labor in third world countries.

  7. John Killingsworth says:

    Many companies that want to engage in any activity that could be viewed as controversial do so by simply hiring contractors to do it for them. They want you to believe they were either ignorant of what was happening or powerless to stop it. Well UM is neither ignorant nor powerless.

    UM could easily put in their contracts a requirement that contractors must meet whatever standards they think is important including labor standards. UM has known for a long time that the labor standards of their contractors was an issue with unions. UM chooses to hire contractors with what the union considers low labor standards. There is nothing wrong with holding people accountable for the choices they make.

  8. Joe Hanssen says:

    p.s. And NO, I am not a carpenter. Nor even a union member.

  9. Joe Hanssen says:

    “This has nothing to with the university.” — ???

    It has everything to do with the university. The “university” is charging exorbitant rates to educate you and other young adults and what are you learning? Evidently, that it is alright to support companies that brow beat / suppress employees into working for poverty wages. And all you can worry about is being a sycophant for those committing the atrocity — while looking down your high and mighty nose at those who care about workers’ well-being.

    What an uppity little B,B.

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