Management holds face cards in Disneyland labor dispute

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Management holds face cards in Disneyland labor dispute:


The deadline for a new union contract at Disneyland has passed, but, according to Al Lutz, management seems to hold little fear of a strike. One of the many factors working in management’s favor? Since Disney shuttered its old parking lot, where would the picket lines go?

You put it where they’ve been in the past. I was working the park when the first strike happened, years ago. The lines will stay on the sidewalks, crossing the entry points to the parking lot. More importantly, they’ll cross the EMPLOYEE and supply entry points.

And in general, as happened back in the 70′s, they’ll be generally ignored. Most visitors won’t cancel their trips over a picket line (union supporters will know better than to show up in the first place, but the # will be small). And Disney’s always done a good job of both scheduling the different unions to separate contract lengths so they can’t all get together and negotiate en-masse, and they’ve also done a good job of including “will cross” clauses that rule out sympathy strikes. Other unions won’t be able to hold out, limiting any real effectiveness.

When the first strike happened (maintenance workers– electricians, plumbers, mechanics, painters, etc, late 70′s), I was a teamster doing work supporting the maintenance guys, so I got to cross the line, where management tried to hold the park together. Basically, anyone who knew a hammer from a crescent wrench became part of the crew doing upkeep of the ride; since a number of management had come out of the ranks, that’s not as bad as it might sound, but it meant a lot of folks doing 14-16 hour days and sleeping at the hotel, until it was settled.

There’s a human side of this kind of problem, too: one of the guys I worked with was in his 60′s, a few months from retirement. His wife was sick, he was dependent on the medical. Disney told him if he struck, that went away. Union reassurances notiwthstanding, he felt he couldn’t risk that — so he crossed, and spent the strike at his lathe, machining parts for the rides and hating every minute of it. He just had too much to lose.

When everything got settled (nobody was happy, but Disney basically won), the regular crew came back. And they all felt terrible for this guy, who was a great guy and friend of many — but he scabbed. And so until he retired, none of the union guys talked to him unless it was strictly work related. Nobody. Nothing.

And THEY hated every minute of that. But — they were clear they weren’t willing to forgive him scabbing, even for that. Although any number of them said to me they’d have probably done it to, and taken the punishment for it. (Since I was Teamster, not trade, it was okay for me to talk to him some so they tended to talk to me about stuff they wanted to make sure he heard, informally.

Strikes suck. Rarely are there winners, it’s just what you lose.

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