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Published: Monday, 2/17/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher gets union job with Chrysler Group

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Samuel Wurzelbacher he was recently hired at Chrysler. Samuel Wurzelbacher he was recently hired at Chrysler.
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Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher - a.k.a., “Joe the Plumber" - announced today on Facebook and earlier on his Web site that he has landed a union job with Chrysler Group LLC.

Mr. Wurzelbacher, 40, of Springfield Township, who once was vilified as an "unlicensed plumber," said he was on his fourth day today and taking a smoke break at the time, when he was accosted by a co-worker as a “teabagger,” a derogatory term used for Tea Party members.

In long message, Mr. Wurzelbacher said, “I was just recently hired on at Chrysler,” and explained that while he's known as a conservative, he's not an enemy of private unions.

“In order to work for Chrysler, you are required to join the Union, in this case UAW. There’s no choice – it’s a union shop – the employees voted to have it that way and in America that’s the way it is,” he wrote.

“I had three days of orientation, and now I’m “on the job” over here at Chrysler and on Day 4, I’m outside on a break smoking a cigarette and right on cue – some guy calls me a ‘teabagger,’” he said.

He said the man called himself a "journeyman," and then quickly walked away.

"I asked him if he recognizes the training we receive in the military in the trades as legitimate, but he didn’t seem interested in a serious discussion and just rushed off…" Mr. Wurzelbacher said. Mr. Wurzelbacher has said that he learned plumbing in the Air Force.

The declaration on Facebook quickly attracted a slew of "likes" and comments.

"Yes, I have a website that puts out conservative news. Yes, I am part owner of a gun company. Yes, I’m a Republican who was cast into the limelight for having the temerity to confront Barack Obama on the question of redistributing wealth… But I’m a working man and I’m working,” he wrote.

“I’ve always found a way to make my way, and now I’ve had the fortune of being hired by a great company – Chrysler Corporation – one of the original Big Three,” Mr. Wurzelbacher wrote.

"Private unions, such as the UAW, is a choice between employees and employers. If that is what they want then who am I to say you can’t have it?" he said.

He became famous in 2008 because of a chance encounter on his street with then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, and has become a popular figure on the Tea Party right. Mr. Wurzelbacher and Mr. Obama engaged in a spirited debate about Mr. Obama’s plans to raise taxes on incomes over $250,000, prompting Mr. Obama to say that his plan would help everyone because it would “spread the wealth around.”

Mr. Wurzelbacher said he was concerned about taxes because he was thinking of buying a plumbing business. That prompted criticism because Mr. Wurzelbacher did not hold a plumbing license, though he was working legally for a plumber contractor.

In 2012, Mr. Wurzelbacher unsuccessfully ran for the 9th Congressional District as the Republican nominee against U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.



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