WICHITA — Labor dispute signs have been popping up at all kinds of businesses and nonprofits in the last couple of years, but Subaru of Wichita appears to be the first business to fight back.
“To be accused of desecrating the American way of life, we’re going to take a little bit of exception to that,” says Aaron Wirtz, who handles marketing and media for Subaru.
Earlier this week, the United Brotherhood Of Carpenters And Joiners Of America Local 201 began a protest in front of the dealership, which is on East Kellogg between Greenwich and 127th Street.
Subaru is in the process of a $1.5 million update to transform the property to the Subaru brand from the previous Suzuki brand that was there.
Wirtz says in addition to hiring a local architect on the project, Subaru hired Wichita’s Key Construction as its contractor. He says Key then hired Hi-Tech Interiors, a local nonunion firm, to do a small portion of drywall work.
In response, the Carpenters union now has people manning a “Shame on Subaru of Wichita” sign on an easement in front of the dealership.
“While we’re certainly not happy to see that, we were kind of unsurprised,” Wirtz says.
In response, Subaru now has a sign that plays off the “Shame” by saying, “For having unbeatable prices.” It also says “indisputable” in a couple of places on the sign.
Wirtz says Subaru respects the union’s right to protest.
“We’ve actually given them lunch. We’ve invited them to visit our facilities.”
Wirtz says he’s convinced the people with the sign are simply hired by the union to stand there.
“It doesn’t really look like they want to be here anymore than we want them to be here, to be quite frank.”