Why is There a Union Rat Outside Boxers?

A union rat outside of the future Boxers on Walnut Street.

A union rat outside of the future Boxers on Walnut Street.

It’s not the iconic mutt you’d expect to see outside Philly’s newest gay bar, Boxers, but a giant, inflated Union rat that’s inhabited the sidewalk on Walnut Street over the last two days. Members of Local 19, the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union, have picketed the home of the future bar, claiming that the owners have used non-union contractors on the construction of the site.

The sign that accompanies the rat reads, “Shame on DZO Mech for lowering sheet metal workers wages and standards.”

Tensions were high when I visited the picket line; as a matter of fact, the leader of the line, named Billy (he refused to give me his last name), tried to grab my cell phone when he thought I was recording him. After explaining that I was a reporter, the only response I got was minimal.

“We are protesting wages and standards,” he told me.

One of the other picketers, Joelle Fequiere, was more open to discussing the matter. “The message we are sending here is that they had the choice to be union.”

I’ve reached out to the owner of Boxers and have yet to receive a response as of this publication. Stay tuned for any updates.

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Taxpayers

    These goons need to be put in jail and PA needs to become a right to work state. Bravo to the businesses that are standing up to these thugs. Here’s hoping there are more FBI investigations of these out of control unions.

    • Guest

      He tried to grab your phone? Disgraceful

      • Chris Tartaglia


    • ashamed

      You are a moron taxpayer! We need unions to ensure a middle class remains and to protect the way of life in the UNITED states. I’ve had family members work in the union trades for generations. I’ll be damned if u are going to slander people like them for their right to protest. The real crime here is that unlicensed, unskilled, and unsafe work is going on in the city I call home. All you have done is made an accusation of someone trying to grab your phone when real crime is happening every day. Go report on something that matters and leave the hard working men and women in this country alone.

    • Chris Tartaglia

      What a shame you are as uninformed as you are. I won’t waste my time explaining why you are wrong, but believe me, you are wrong.

  • He tried to grab your phone? That is disgraceful

    • Chris Tartaglia


  • Crystal

    The Unions aren’t out of control. The companies that refuse to pay a decent wage and suitable work conditions are out of control. The unions are what made this country. My husband is a Union Ironworker out of Local 11. Neither he or the other people who work along side him are goons. Get your head out of your asses people. The Union is for America by America. They picket companies who outsource to workers who work for less than they deserve. Companies who dont offer these workers benefits or safe working conditions. They are trying to prevent corporate slavery… and you want them shut down? Smh

    • bill

      Thank god someone on this forum has a brain!!

  • Nat

    Do the unions really think having an inflatable rat out in front of a business is going to change anything. I actually might be more likely to go to a business they are protesting because the unions in many cases act like idiots. Take your legitimate concerns to court or to lawmakers. If you thinking standing on the street whining isn’t gonna make a difference. And if the wages some of the unions demand were not so ridiculous in the first place, maybe these businesses wouldnt have to go with non union workers. It’s going to get to a point where nothing new is going to get built because no one can afford the union worker wages and then where will those workers be? Out of work.

    • jim k

      It makes a big difference, ive turned many customers away with a pickit line or a handbill…

    • smwtin19

      You shop at wal-mart don’t you?

  • Jeff

    When they lose bids they bring out the dumb rat and are obnoxious… if the bids were more competitive they would win… It’s not a sign that the work is any less good. it just means the folks that have the blowup rat lost a bid and are upset…

    • Jeff

      Also… my guess is that it used NY labor since its a NY company making it’s first move to another city too… i bet they used same guys they used for there other 2 locations there.

      • Smwtin19

        So you think New York is less Union than Philly?

      • Just sayin’

        Jeff you should check before making stupid comments. DZO Mechanical is a Philadelphia company. They are not using nyc contractors, but they should. I am sure they would be better!

    • Eddie

      No… A company bids on a job. A lot of the time in Philly companies bid against each other that are both union. It’s all about how the estimator thinks it will cost in labor and costs of material and how much the sales guy and company want/need to make. The employee makes the same at each company that’s the only thing that’s the same.

  • DownThereOnAVisit

    A lot of anti-union comments here. I grew up in PA. My father was a union steelworker. If it weren’t for the wages and benefits belonging to a union brought, he wouldn’t have been able to send my sisters and me to college. He and my Mom would not have had a comfortable retirement. We would probably have been trapped in poverty. Do unions have problems? Hell, yes. But if you want *all* wages (not just for union jobs) to decline, Make PA a so-called “right to work” state. If you want a crappy economy that never climbs out of the recession, make PA a “right to work” state – the places with the strongest economies are those with strong unions and high minimum wage laws, not the southern “right to work” states. If you want unsafe working conditions, bosses who don’t pay you for overtime and steal from your paycheck… well you get the idea.

    • DownThereOnAVisit

      LGBT people need to learn about solidarity – working with other people and other causes, like people of color, and working people and immigrants. After all, many of us *are* people of color, working people and immigrants. LGBT people earn less than straight people on average, and are subject to police harassment and bashings like people of color and immigrants. We have a lot in common, and if we all work together and support one another we will be far more successful than if we pretend the problems of other groups are not our problems too. Union-bashing does not do us any good.

      • mikey5432

        i can certainly understand where you are coming from. as a former union member, the pay and benefits where amazing – but when I needed the union – as a gay man – they couldn’t be bothered – i lost everything because the union reps I had could care less

  • mikey5432

    Was it not these unions that because of their ridiculous fees and overcharging cost Philly millions in convention business? Sometimes greedy is just greedy.

  • Eddie

    ….. Right to work states are not in the best interest of the workers. I’ve worked and done the billing at both union and non union hvac companies, okay? So here is the real news, the COMPANY bills about th same amount to customers. Which two years ago was $105 hr ironically at both places. The big difference was the non union guys got $ 20 -27 hr max, and the union guys got $35-$45 hr. THE CONSUMER PAID ThE SAME AMOUNT, it was just that the unioniZed company and Sales guys made less because they paid the employee more. I’m not in th sheet metal union. I was office staff, I was salary, ( Which it sucks to be salary, but different conversation )

  • jim k

    Goons? Thugs?..you are very misled my friend. Right to work state? Really?.so you agree with corporate greed and paying workers next to nothing. Do you enjoy your 40 work week? Did you enjoy your vacation this year? How about your health benefits, do you enjoy them too, thank a union for that!. You think its fair to pay out of towners and illeagal immigrants to do work in our city and then take that money elsewhere? Is it fair for companies to “not” give these people benefits and a decent wage to actually earn a living? When they get hurt from the lack of training and the lack of safety knowledge who pays the bill?..unions built this country, and the less we have them the more the economy will suffer! .

  • Dave O

    Eddie has the right comment below, the Company is going to bill at the same price as a Union Company, only difference is the working man doesn’t get to share in the company’s success in getting the contract, it mostly goes to the Company, where it is shared more with Union Workers so everyone has a nice Living Wage. Why would you be jealous that Union Workers receive a nice salary, if they didn’t drive up the market all that would be available to Non-Union Workers is minimum wage and no benefits. There is no trickle down effect, there is the wealthy wanting it all and thinking the rest of us are just another piece of garbage they pass on the street.

  • Paul

    First of all we r not goons or whatever else you want to call us.we r highly skilled craftsmen. Educated in are field of work.because we want fare wages. This country was built on unions. We put up a rat to protest. Wow man that’s so bad what is this world coming too. If people want to build here use the people that live here and spend there money here. What there not enough work in NYC. That they have too come here. So tired of seeing out of town non union contractors. Hired the people that live play and spend here. Construction wise that would be union craftsmen and women. White,black, Spanish and gay.give me a break all ready.

  • Go Bucks

    Pensions, Health Care and 8 hours work for 8 hours paid. Safe working conditiono and a voice in the work place…Unions: doesn’t sound like a bad gig to me.

  • Sullymk

    I saw a comment on ‘being Competitive” As a Union member AND part of a Family owned Contracting firm for years I saw both sides to the argument..As am estimator I welcomed Union Competition as in the end the wages and Hours all benefited hard working families who in turn re-invested in their schools and local neighborhoods…cut that wage and benefits and you have a Non Union worker…who could be struggling to make ends meet Just to earn a wage..they could even be travelling from up 2-3 hours away just for this opportunity…wouldn’t it be better if the Opportunity Provided a higher wage with Health benefits that meet or even exceed what “Obamacare” may provide?
    I will never begrudge a worker for wanting to feed their family, But a non Union Contractor shows social Irresponsibility for not investing in their workforce,,,sure the few who manage the projects make a great wage..but what is the 22 yr old kid just hired making?? As for Competitiveness..Most Union Contractors CHOOSE to be union for quality of work performed in a safe manner..I don’t exact;y agree with the rat and Bullying tactics all the time But I do Promote the benefits of the wages and training of a trade union The gap in an Estimate is really only 10-15% wouldn’t you want 10-15% Any higher and I would Question the scope of work Provided by a Non Union contractor.
    Wouldn’t you want that 10-15% difference feeding families and put back into a local economy? Right to work Means the beginning of a breakdown in your right to earn a good wage…That means you Taxpayer.

  • E dub

    There is a rat out front to let me and my family not to support them.

    • E dub

      Know not to^

  • I Can’t live on $7.25

    I just have to say that anyone who thinks that these people should be arrested or investigated by the FBI are crazy. Anyone that has this anti-union mentality, that’s fine it’s your right. However I call for Congress to enact a new law. You SHALL forefeit your right to a weekend, you receive no Social Security, unemployment insurance, and any kind of government support for your job. You rescind your breaks/smoke breaks at your job, and you MUST NOW work from sun up to sun down. Oh, and if your child is sick, YOURE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE OR TAKE THE DAY OFF! Otherwise you’re fired!!! So you guys are entitled to not like Unions. But I REQUIRE YOU TO GIVE BACK ALL THE THINGS MY GREAT GREAT GRANDPARENTS, My uncles, my cousins, and my family EARNED AND FOUGHT FOR YOU TO RECEIVE. You ungrateful and ignorant people. Give that back to me, the 110 years of Labor rights. You don’t deserve them. Oh and P.S. He does deserve to have his camera taken away, especially if he didn’t asked permission to photograph the man. My image and likeness are mine and unless he is paying me for it, the reporter has no right to it. The reporter does have a right to freedom of speech, which my dad and grandfathers earned him through 2 world wars!! He can give that back!

  • Lisa Dungee

    I’m a union sheet metal worker and I am certainly no thug. I love what I do for a living and truthfully I don’t think it would be possible without my union or the labor movement in general. When I tried to work non union the people doing the hiring took one look at me and said no we have nothing for you. My union on the other hand met me with open arms and helped me aquire the skills necessary to make me employable.

  • Joe B

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I worked 17 years non-union. My highest pay was $17.50 an hour and when I was offered health benefits (which were lousy) , it cost me over $100 a week! I worked for a company that had me installing Chimneys and other vents through roofs with absolutely no fall protection. Had to wear sneakers for traction. When I asked the boss for a rope to tie myself off so I wouldn’t fall, the response was ” No way. 200′ of rope is voing to cost me $75″. Apparently, my life wasn’t worth it.

    Now lets get back to health benefits. My union provides excellent coverage. How good are they? In 2011, I
    was out of work for about 20 months when my wife had to have emergency Heart surgery. 48 years old, Coronary Artery Disease, Triple Bypass. And even though I hadn’t worked for almost 2 years, I still had my benefits. The cost for just 5 days in the hospital, not including Doctors, medicine or exrays was $149,000. Without my Union health benefits, my wife might not be here today. This story is 100% true. I can provide proof to anyone who wants it.

    Know your facts before you trash Unions. They are the reason you have your weekend, 40 hour work week, and Workmens Comp insurance

  • Chris Tartaglia

    It’s obvious that comments like ‘taxpayers’ are one sided & not very well informed. I’ll start by pointing out that if the job was being done union it would not be costing you, the taxpayer (Just like ME! Shocker!) any more money, since it is a private job. The FBI can investigate Local 19 to their heart’s content, we are clean. Secondly, we aren’t breaking any laws by being there. Nobody was intimidated, threatened or beat up. We are simply exercising our first amendment right, which is what you conservatives are always yammering on & on about, so you should be OK with what we are doing. Thirdly, you clearly have little to no clue how construction works & how bidding a job works.The workers on that site are making less than half of what we earn, but do you think DZO mechanical bid the job at those wages? No way….they bid it slightly under ours & are pocketing the rest, so the “savings” are minimal, esp when you consider our non union counterparts are not as efficient as we are when it comes to productivity. It takes them longer to do the same job because we are trained much better than they are. And I can say this with full knowledge that I’m correct because I spent 18 months as a non union worker in the mid 90’s, before I was able to join the union.

  • Chris Tartaglia

    We pay more taxes than they do as well. If you are upset by our wages then maybe YOU are underpaid? Stop selling yourself short, taxpayers. Don’t be pissed off at our wages & benefits, demand that yours are as good as mine.

  • localworker

    I’m siding with the unions on this one. The are just trying to protect the wages and standards for workers in their trade. They fought hard for these benefits and if contractors come in and start undercutting them it will just keep getting worse. It benefits union and nonunion workers. We need this rat at more sites.