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Doc Burnstein's is shame-free

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Almost a year after members of the Carpenters Local 150 Union first deployed protesters and banners that stated “Shame on Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab,” the banners are gone.

“This morning I walked over to the window and looked out … and it’s become such a habit because I’ve always looked to see what’s going on out there, and I saw no banner and I just went, ‘Woohoo!’” said Greg Steinberger, who owns the shop in Arroyo Grande.

Union members began bannering outside the ice cream parlor in October 2009, claiming the business was paying unfair wages to non-union workers who were refurbishing a new location for the parlor in the Santa Maria Town Center (mall owners had actually hired their own in-house carpenters).

Members of the community gathered several times without success to persuade the Local 150 protesters to remove the banners. Steinberger and his supporters planned to protest the Local 150 office on Aug. 9, but canceled when the union pulled its banners. Instead, Steinberger decided to give his supporters free ice cream. “So I basically converted it … from a planned march to a planned celebration,” he said.

New Times, has been unable to contact union representatives, but Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara did communicate with Local 150 president Joseph Duran. Ferrara, Duran, and Steinberger met on Aug. 11 and came to an understanding.

Duran agreed to remove the banners, Ferrara said. In the future, the union will also communicate directly with businesses before sending people out to banner storefronts.

“I think we’re OK for the time being and we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that they’re sincere in wanting to keep communication open in the future,” Ferrara said.

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