Children arriving for their second day of school at Lincoln Elementary School in Edison were greeted by a funeral casket draped with an image of a dead body and a toe tag (like in a morgue) that said, “Irresponsible contractors are killing middle class wages.” The outdoor display was created by a LiUNA, a local unit of the Building and General Construction Laborers union, and was intended to depict union members’ outrage that the district had hired non-local and not-necessarily-unionized workers for a $9 million expansion project. There was also a large inflated rat nearby, a common symbol at union protests.
When Edison Superintendent Bernard Bragen asked LiUNA members to remove the casket because it was upsetting children, the members said, “tough shit.” Later, school staff covered the casket with a tarp. When Bragen complained to Kevin Duncan, head of Middlesex County’s Building & Construction Trades Council, Duncan said, “it’s out of my hands.”
School districts, when preparing for construction (or any large purchase), have to request bids from interested contractors. They are required to accept the lowest bid that meets the project’s specifications. In this case, the winning bid was from Pal-Pro Builders of Bergen County.
Parents in Edison were very angry, reports nj.com. One said, “It was a real coffin. They set it up at the front of the sidewalk, where all the kids had to walk in. It also had a banner of a corpse with a toe-tag on it. It was a pretty graphic picture.”
The Edison Board of Education issued a statement condemning the placement of a casket in front of an elementary school. “The union has the right to protest in public,” board members said, “however protesting with a coffin in front of elementary school children on school property went way too far, it is simply wrong and disgusting.”
(Photo courtesy of Advance Media.)