Fire and Rebuilding Update

To our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and our Friends…Blessings!
Praise God! We have finally begun to build, but we have very limited funds.  For this reason, we instructed our Project Manager Rev. Robert McFadden to find the best combination of labor to complete our sanctuary.  We need to stay within our budget because there is no other money available to work with.  Currently, we have used both Union and Open Shop contractors (two of each).  
The Labor Unions are in an uproar because of our use of non-union labor and have attempted to pressure us to use 100% union workers.  This is not feasible for us inasmuch as we cannot afford the rates that Unions are asking in many cases.  We, therefore, opted to use part union, part open shop and to hire men and women from our community to work on the Church project.
We understand the union’s position that “using non-union labor enables work to be done within this city that does not meet the high-standard for wages and benefits that unions pay.”  It is precisely this that has forced us to use a combination of labor.  Union bids were taken for the project and the best bid from the union was approximately $130,000 above the same bids given by non-union shops.  Only within the last three days (April 15, 2010), did the unions reveal that in cases where their contractors bid significantly above other companies that they might have money available to contribute to the project so that the higher wages could be paid without increasing the cost to the Church.  This information should have been given to us much earlier when our general contractor and our project manager asked, “if the union companies could give us more competitive bids.”  At that time, their answer was, “no.”  However, our contracts have been awarded and signed.
We are currently meeting with union representatives to see if anything can be done to satisfy both the Church and the union, without breaking our contractual obligations and incurring lawsuits in the process.  The main problem is that union workers so far refuse to work alongside non-union laborers.  The work on the Church continues while we attempt to bring an end to the labor unrest.  
We did, however, feel especially insulted by Local Union #1 when they inflated a large (about 20ft high) rat on or adjacent to our property.  For Christians, this is desecration of a place dedicated to the worship of the one True God!  It is religiously a blasphemous act, no matter that the government allows the unions to use such a representation, to indicate that non-union workers are at work at a particular site.  Our belief is that if it is not illegal to do so, it should be illegal to so desecrate a space dedicated for worship!  At best, the use of such a vile representation and idol is insensitive and indicates that the unions do not understand that they should not use the same standards of behavior when confronting sacred institutions that they use when confronting the secular, corporate world.  We understand that the insult was meant for the non-union contractors, but we hold that since the property and the project are the Church's, that although the target was different, the target that was breached, was the Church itself.  For our part, we believe the representation should have been placed far from the Church's sacred property--if necessary, at the home of the non-union contractors’ or perhaps, elsewhere. 
We are currently researching our options to challenge and end these types of practices that defile our sacred institutions because of the angst of the unions and the need to belittle the value not only of the work being done in the Church's name, but indeed defames and diminishes the character and work of the Church.    
You should know that support from our community remains extremely strong, and our neighbors look forward to the completion of this sanctuary.  

God bless you for your patience. 
Pray for us and with us. 
Be Blessed! 
Pastor Robert V. Shipman, Sr.