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My experience with UNITE HERE
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5/22/2015 at 6:19:59 PM GMT
Posts: 1
My experience with UNITE HERE

Members of Unite Here, the organization fighting to unionize the workers at the Westin - Long Beach, have been using intimidating tactics to try to put pressure on AFS members to force the society to withdraw from the Westin. Many of us have received emails and calls, to which I have no objection; they have every right to express their opinion and persuade us to support them. But lately their tactics have escalated, targeting members of the AFS 2015 organizing committee based in the greater Los Angeles area, as well as uninvolved members of the public.

Unite Here members attended the meeting of the Western States Folklore Society at UCLA April 18, picketing outside buildings where papers were being delivered. They harassed students from my institution, California State University – Northridge, who were giving academic papers for the first time, and who knew nothing of the AFS situation, bullying them into promising that they would boycott the AFS meetings in Long Beach. Many of these students are from under-served backgrounds and the first in their families to attend college. They were confused and intimidated; this reception only added to their already great anxiety at being on a different university campus and having to deliver a paper.

Several weeks later, three Unite Here members showed up in my office to urge me to boycott the AFS meeting. We had a long discussion that went nowhere; essentially, they are unwilling to accept any kind of compromise short of AFS withdrawing from its contract with the Westin. Eventually, they became so loud and insistent that I threatened to call campus security if they did not leave. As they were leaving, they pointed at me and loudly chanted, "Shame! Shame! Shame!” attracting the attention of other faculty and disturbing classes that were being held in the vicinity.

Finally, on Saturday, May 9, when I was giving a lecture at the Venice Public Library, members of Unite Here picketed the library and handed flyers to patrons accusing me of being anti-union and urging, "Tell Magliocco to do the right thing!” Library patrons knew nothing of the situation and were puzzled by this demonstration; many did not even realize that I was speaking there. The library director was not amused. Union members were within their legal rights to assemble on public property, but exercised poor judgment in the way they chose to approach library patrons, some of whom were discouraged from entering.

I want to emphasize that I am a proud member of the California Faculty Association, a union associated with the National Education Association (NEA), one of the largest labor organizations in the United States. I strongly support the right of Westin hotel workers to unionize, but believe Unite Here is alienating the very people who would otherwise support them, and undermining itself by using intimidating tactics. I, for one, refuse to be intimidated.

Last edited Monday, June 1, 2015

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