Carpenters Union Says “Shame On Pastor Flynn”

Labor Dispute Involves Claims Against Helton Construction

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - by Dennis Norwood
Protesters at church in East Brainerd
Protesters at church in East Brainerd
- photo by Dennis Norwood

Members of the Mid-South Carpenters Regional Council appear to be blaming a local pastor for what they say is “Desecration of the American Way of Life.”

A flier handed out by the union’s members at Christ United Methodist Church in East Brainerd depicts what looks to be a giant rat gnawing away at the American flag. The council members say that their dispute is not with Pastor Mark Flynn, but with the general contractor on the job, Helton Construction.

Pastor Flynn says he doesn’t know why they are using his name on their materials, which includes a large sign at the corner of East Brainerd Road and Morris Hill Road, the church’s location. “They were here back in April,” said the minister. “At that time the sign said ‘Shame on Helton Construction.’

According to Pastor Flynn, “Their dispute is actually with Helton and that’s where we’ve been referring people. Perhaps they feel like using my name will get them more publicity.”

He went on to say, “We hired Helton as the general contractor, and they are responsible for everything construction-related. I think it may have something to do with the union accusing the contractor of using non-union laborers.”

The carpenters who were manning the protest would not identify themselves, referring all questions to either the church or their union headquarters. A call to the union found the spokesman, Robert Helton (no relation to the contractor), unavailable. Mr. Helton is the director of special projects for the organization.

According to the union’s flier, Mid-South Carpenters Regional Council "objects to substandard employers like Helton Construction working in the community." In their opinion the community ends up paying the tab for employee health care and for taxes not being paid by undocumented workers, which the protesters say are present on the work-site.

According to the unnamed protesters, “There are no on-site apprentice opportunities to train new laborers. It is not just here in Chattanooga, it is the industry as a whole."

As the union members spoke, it was evident that work on the building addition was proceeding. Referencing other unions present on the site, the carpenters’ representatives said they could not speak to any claims the electricians or other laborers might have.

Reached by phone, Eddie Helton, owner of Helton Construction, said, “These folks claim my people are paid substandard wages and are not provided any health insurance. That is totally untrue. We do compensate our people very well and they all have health insurance provided by our company.” He continued, “Their claims are just not true.”

Speaking about the union’s use of Pastor Flynn’s name, Mr. Helton stated, “It’s a sad state when people post a sign saying that a pastor, a man of God, is responsible for what they are saying. The pastor is a good man and that is, he has no connection to the construction project. A building committee from the church chose us as the general contractor, and that’s who I deal with.”

Mr. Helton concluded, “Personally, I’d be afraid to stand out there with that kind of sign… what with the wrath of God and all.”

(Email Dennis Norwood at; Follow him on Twitter at DennisENorwood)

Church construction site
Church construction site
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood

Hutcheson Medical Center Trustee Asks Use Of Funds From Clinic Sale To Obtain DISH Funds

The trustee for Hutcheson Medical Center is asking to use proceeds from the sale of the Chickamauga Clinic in order to help obtain Disproportionate Share (DISH) funds from the state of Georgia. Trustee Ronald Glass said, in order to get $1,138,159 in DISH funds, the hospital must transfer $369,333 through the Hospital Authority of Catoosa, Walker and Dade Counties. He noted ... (click for more)

Red Bank Commission Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the agenda for the Red Bank Commission meeting on Tuesday: I. Call to Order – Mayor John Roberts II. Roll Call – City Manager ___ Mayor Roberts, ___ Vice-Mayor Pierce, ___ Commissioner Causer, ___ Commissioner LeCompte, ___ Commissioner Pope III. Invocation – IV. Pledge of Allegiance – V. Consideration of the Minutes for approval or correction: A. November ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Why I Am Thankful, 2015

I can’t really remember when I first started this – sometime in the 1970s – but my favorite column every year comes during Thanksgiving when I literally pause and use my fingers to thank God for all His richest blessings. The year 2015 has been bountiful so here are just a few of the things I will carry in my heart as I take my place at today’s table: I AM THANKFUL that tomorrow, ... (click for more)

UTC Rallies to Top Arkansas State, 55-54

Just call ‘em the comeback kids, and kids – i.e. young ladies – who are plenty thankful for a win on Thanksgiving Eve. For the second time in three games, the UTC Mocs (4-2) rallied for a win as they handed previously unbeaten Arkansas State (3-1), 55-54, its first loss of the young season in McKenzie Arena Wednesday night before 1,189 fans. Down by as many as 17 (44-27) ... (click for more)

Jones Thankful For Resiliency, Resolve Of 2015 Vols

The day before families gather around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving, Tennessee football coach   spoke about what he and the Vols are thankful for. "It's a time to reflect and we have so much to be thankful and grateful for in really the resiliency and resolve that this football team has shown, the growing of this football team and the growing of this football program," ... (click for more)