Ice cream shop owner calls for calm instead of conflict

Greg Steinberger, the owner of Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab in the Arroyo Grande Village, is asking his supporters to step down from a flurry of public support launched recently in opposition to a protest by a carpenters union.

Steinberger said the scene continues to escalate outside the ice cream shop with voices being raised and some people feeling bullied or physically intimidated. He said he is concerned about the tone of the protest.

“We are not looking for conflict,” said Steinberger. “Our banner isn’t even worded to say anything negative about the union.”

Arroyo Grande business people began rallying around the popular ice cream shop last week to show their support because they felt the business was being unfairly targeted by the union.

Activists from the Camarillo-based union have been posted outside his shop for two months claiming that the labor dispute was launched because nonunion carpenters are being used to construct interior improvements at the Doc Burnstein’s second location at the Santa Maria Town Center mall. However, the mall, not Steinberger, is paying for the renovations.

Phone calls to Carpenters Local 150 were not returned.

Patty Welsh, an Arroyo Grande resident who has stood outside Doc Burnstein’s Village shop with a sign in support of it, said Wednesday that she felt threatened by the union representatives and agreed that it was time to step down.

Welsh said that on Wednesday the protesters used a sign to push her out of the way.

“I am passionate about what I have been doing but I’m not going to be stupid about it,” said Welsh. “I think we got our point across, and that is what we wanted. It is time to scale back and make sure no one gets hurt.”