Florida Carpenters Union Wages War on TD Bank

Categories: Recessionomics
TD Bank.jpg
The Florida Carpenters strike again, this time against a TD Bank on Biscayne Blvd. in North Miami
From Ohio to Wisconsin, organized labor is under attack. In that mitten-shaped slab of cheese up north, governor Scott Walker used a budget bill to kill collective bargaining. In Ohio, the working man is even worse off, with no Super Bowl to distract from the state's assault on public employees.

Not to be outdone, Rick Scott and Florida Republicans are also aggressively undermining unions in an apparent effort to ensure that corporations are the only collective that can influence elections.

So naturally Riptide's interest was piqued to learn that a local union, the Florida Carpenters Regional Council, had reversed the equation by taking on a big corporation. But what's the beef with TD Bank?

Riptide first learned of the dispute when we drove past a TD Bank yesterday and spotted a large protest sign (above). We also picked up a flier entitled: "Shame on TD Bank."

The pink broadsheet calls TD "America's most inconvenient bank" and lists a dozen gripes against the company, from a high instance of being robbed to links to Ponzi schemers Allen Stanford and Scott Rothstein. The name and number of the Florida Carpenters Regional Council is listed at the bottom.

"They are tied to ponzi schemes here and in New York," claims FCRC's Director of Special Operations Terry Darling. "So we keep banners up on a regular basis to warn people."

The carpenters' real grudge against the bank is much more personal, however. Darling says his union had a long-standing agreement with Commerce Bank under which the FCRC built and refurbished banks all over the state.

But when Canadian TD Bank bought Commerce in October of 2007, Darling says the bank broke the contract with the carpenters in favor of cheaper, non-unionized labor.

"Since then, they've hired contractors that engage in illegal activities like workers compensation fraud and cash payment fraud," Darling alleges. "We have substantial evidence in regard to that," he adds, but directs our more specific questions to TD bank.

"We stand by our practices," insists Rebecca Acevedo, a national spokeswoman for TD Bank. "We hire people with high standards and with professional skills," she added. "But we're a free society. They have a right to protest and distribute fliers."

And so Darling and his fellow Florida carpenters have been waging a three-and-a-half year-long war of attrition against the bank: protesting outside branches, handing out fliers linking them to Ponzi schemers and the financial crisis, and using Facebook to slam the corporation's reputation.

Darling directed us to two Facebook pages devoted to detailing TD's supposed shittiness: the "I Hate TD Bank!!!" and "TD BANK SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE WANT COMMERCE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!" sites. They have a combined 2,000 followers, many of whom post complaints about TD Bank fees.

"So I just found out effective March 9, this shitty bank is charging a service fee for non-TD ATMs," wrote one follower recently. "I'm taking my talents to PNC."

When asked if he was behind the websites, Darling laughs.

"I can neither confirm nor deny that," he says.

TD Bank says that there is no dispute with the union and that its members are "welcome to the table" anytime. But reconciliation isn't likely. Darling says the bank is engaged in a "race to the bottom in terms of wages" and should shoulder some of the blame for the plight of the working class.

"What happened to the concept of being a responsible corporate citizen?" he asks. "A carpenter in today's world will never get rich. But we believe that a carpenter working with his hand and his tools has the right to live with dignity, at least. That concept is lost when we get into an overcompetetive labor market like we have today where businesses are looking for the cheapest labor they can find."

Carpenters built this country ever since they hosted a secret congressional meeting in Philadelphia in 1774, Darling says. So he's not about to quit his quixotic campaign any time soon.

"I'm not ready to roll over and play dead," he says.

Click here for more photos of FCRC protests and fliers.

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3 comments
Armando
Armando

Why is taking so long for the goverment to closed TD BANK down or make them pay back all the overdraft fees ?

donny1020
donny1020

The Carpenters are not a real Union but are now nothing more than a business. They are not part of the AF-CIO or Change to Win. They are viewed as a predatory organization at this time.

Most recently the Carpenters gave significant campaign contributions and political assistance to Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. The leadership of the Carpenters was a regular guest of President GW Bush and has aligned his organization against the broader labor movement.

The Carpenters have found themselves under investigation across the United for the exploitation of their own membership. In the Northwest they were even found guilty of not paying their employees minimum wage and overtime. At their most recent convention they had the past head of one of their larger Regional Councils who has known ties to to organized crime at the dias. This person, Pascal McGuiness had been removed from office because his activities with the Genovese family had become so well known.

The National organization is ran by the McCarron family who has removed the most basic of democratic rights from its membership.http://www.counterpunch.org/co...

At this time any statements made by the "Carpenters Union" are nothing more than rhetoric from a temporary labor agency posing as a Union.

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