A new “union” is a nasty con, using the historical promise of unionization to trap migrant workers:
Labor advocates say a guild for migrant workers is a stalking-horse for the carnival industry, not a champion for its employees.
RICHMOND, R.I. — At summer carnivals like the Washington County Fair recently held here, migrant laborers spend long days running the Whip, the Orbiter, the Polar Express and other popular rides.
So when a new union signed contracts with dozens of companies that operate at fairs and carnivals, it seemed that a group of workers long considered exploited had found a new ally.
Labor advocates, however, have since charged that the new union was really a stalking-horse for industry, not a champion for laborers, many of whom come from Mexico. And instead of demanding that companies pay the carnival workers more, the advocates say the union deals assured the employers they would not have to do so.
Several officers of the union, the Association of Mobile Entertainment Workers, also had close ties, it turned out, to two businessmen — one in Texas, the other in Mexico — who have long supplied carnivals and fairs with itinerant Mexican workers.
“This was a fraud on the system,” said Art Read, a lawyer with Friends of Farmworkers, one of the groups that filed a complaint last year about the union with the National Labor Relations Board.