A new low? While not unheard of, unions and political rivals protesting outside an opponent’s private residence is not a tactic unions usually deploy.
Two unions—International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150—protested outside an Illinois lawmaker’s residence for his hiring of non-union construction workers, according to the Chicago Tribune.
State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, was out of town Wednesday morning when a neighbor called with some news. Union members were protesting outside his under-construction Northwest Side home with signs, a billboard truck and a two-story inflatable rat squatting in the parkway.
“Shame on Representative Michael P. McAuliffe for using rat contractors,” read the billboard truck, which roamed the neighborhood and at one point parked outside his children’s school, he was told. The gaggle disrupted traffic and blocked sidewalks along his usually quiet street.
“I’ve been in politics for many years and I know everything keeps going to a new low,” McAuliffe said. “It’s pretty disturbing. You can say and do what you want, but leave my wife out and especially my kids.”
According to the Tribune, the IBEW and IUOE were protesting McAuliffe’s use of non-union labor and, as well, his refusal “to support a statewide ban on right-to-work zones, which are economic development tools that allow municipalities to lift union-membership rules as a way to attract businesses.”
The protest may have also been a political stunt by McCauliffe’s opponent who was apparently at the union protest, according to Capitol Fax.
In a statement, Representative McAuliffe stated:
I respect that people have a difference of option and the right to peaceful protest. This is the core of our democracy and fabric of our freedom. However, protesting outside of my home and driving a van with disparaging content in front of my children’s school is completely unacceptable. My presumed opponent, Merry Marwig and certain union leaders have demonstrated a new low in politics and while I respect that fact that we have a difference of opinion I would hope that the line can be drawn when it comes to disrupting the lives of my family and our neighbors.
While unions protesting politicians’ offices is not an entirely new tactic, targeting them at their private residences is unusual.