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Paid to Picket

Randy Chapman, gun for hire

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Fifty one-year-old Randy Chapman might have made headlines last weekend as the homeless Miami man set to go from rags to riches -- by way of a $50,000 inheritance he never knew he had. But as details of his bizarre tale emerged, Chapman’s story sparked a different flurry of questions.

Chapman, though homeless, told reporters he had a job; as a picketer for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union.

And it turns out he’s not the only local non-union member being paid to campaign on behalf of the bortherhood. According to a media-wary Terry Darling, the Hialeah-based South Florida Carpenters Regional Council’s director of business development and special projects, the union often employs what darling dubs “paid pickets.”

“It’s not outsourcing,” says Darling, who declined commenting as to how many local picketers were culled from homeless shelters. “These people are on our payroll, they pay taxes, and social security, and they receive a pay check.”

Darling refused to reveal how much paid picketers earned, stating only “it ranges depending on skill level, but it’s more than better than minimum wage.” Darling told the Sun Sentinel that Chapman made about $20 per day.

According to a recent Washington Post article titled “Outsourcing the Picket Line,” the United Brotherhood of Carpenters is the only union that routinely hires homeless people for its picket lines and though others have not embraced the idea of hired help, few have openly criticized the practice. --Joanne Green

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