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 sportswriter56@comcast.net; Follow him on Twitter at DennisENorwood)

Church construction site
Church construction site
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood

Corker Urges Obama Administration, Negotiators Not To “Rush Headlong Into A Bad Deal With Iran"

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged the Obama administration and negotiators for other P5-plus-one nations not to “rush headlong” into a nuclear deal with Iran just to meet a March 31 target date for a political framework agreement. Negotiations will continue until June 30 , which is the final deadline for a comprehensive agreement. ... (click for more)

Family Escapes Sunday Morning Blaze

A Chattanooga family was getting ready for church Sunday morning when they heard a loud pop on the back side of the house. The pop they heard was apparently a window breaking from intense flames on the outside of the house. Larry Erskine, his wife Nicole, and their two-year-old daughter got out of the house without injuries and called 911.  The Chattanooga Fire Department ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sunday Funnies

They say March roars in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. So as you reach for your lambs-wool sweater on this last Sunday of the month, allow me to lighten up a bit with a new edition of my Sunday Funnies. I have a delightful crowd that keeps me supplied in jokes and these are some of the best that have come my way: A WOMAN'S PERFECT BREAKFAST -- She's sitting at the table ... (click for more)

Lady Vols Headed To Elite 8 With 73-69 OT Win

For the 27th time Tennessee is headed back to the Elite Eight. The second-seeded Lady Vols had an epic rally to defeat upstart #11 seed Gonzaga, playing two miles from its campus, 73-69 in overtime, at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday  night. Tennessee (30-5) will take on No. 1 seed Maryland (33-2) in the Elite Eight for a chance to reach their 19th Final ... (click for more)

UTC Women's Tennis Takes 1st Win Over Furman Since 1997

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s tennis got a huge monkey off its back with a 4-3 win over Furman on Sunday.  The Mocs snapped a 24-match losing streak against the Paladins with their first win in the series since 1997. UTC had come close in the last four meetings, falling 4-3 each time.  Today’s win gives Chattanooga a 14-2 overall record as it ... (click for more)