For too many businesses, the presence of union protesters effectively shuts down operations. One Kansas auto dealership, however, proved that those picket signs can be used to actually attract customers.
When United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 201 sent representatives to hold up a sign in front of Subaru of Wichita recently, they vaguely complained of “labor disputes.”
Thinking on their feet, staff members at the dealership fashioned a very similar sign declaring that it is “indisputable” that the lot has “unbeatable prices.”
While there is nothing the dealership could legally do to force the removal of the union signs, it was conversely impossible for the protesters to silence the pro-business banner erected to their immediate left. Both signs were located in the right-of-way directly in front of the dealership, meaning they could not be permanently affixed to the ground. While it is unclear from local reports who the union sent to hold up its sign, Subaru of Wichita enlisted volunteers to stand by the road and bring in new customers.
Marketing and media manager Aaron Wirtz candidly spoke to local media about the response, saying the dealership understands protesters have a right to picket the dealership.
“We’ve actually given them lunch,” he said. “We’ve invited them to visit our facilities.”
He did note, however, that the city has experienced a glut of such displays and denies the business is in the midst of any type of labor dispute whatsoever.
Wirtz called the sign “disingenuous,” explaining the protesters’ apparent goal “is to actually intimidate and smear.”
Locals have expressed “unbelievable” support for the dealership, he said, noting residents are “tired of having these people stand outside of their churches, outside of the YMCA – it’s absurd.”
The only potential cause for the protest seems to be the fact that the dealership hired non-union workers for a minor drywall job. Union representative Chad Mabin refused to comment on the cause of its supposed outrage.
He did, however, have a stack of flyers featuring a drawing of a rat apparently gnawing on an American flag.
Incidents like this prove not only that the free market can come up with a response to just about any curveball thrown its way; it also serves as evidence that labor unions have long outlived their usefulness.
—B. Christopher Agee
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Photo Credit: Beyond My Ken (Creative Commons)