Local conflicts

Driving to the Long Beach Hilton yesterday for a convention, I saw a line of picketers in front. I was driving past to find the parking, but they seemed to be listless, and all the signs were professionally printed.

Hired picketers, I thought. I was early, so I wanted to go speak to them to see what they could tell me about their cause. Not much, I figured, if they were temp workers hired by the union to hold signs.

As sign holding gigs go, this one would be less taxing than the one where the guy has to hold the arrow ON SALE sign and dance while waving it around.

But by the time I got to the picketers, they had turned up the volume. Literally. There was a bullhorn in use, and some marching that could be interpreted as angry. Now I felt too intimidated to go up and talk to them.

Two people were standing in an alcove to take a better look so i joined them. The woman there said “What do those signs say? What are they protesting?”

My thoughts exactly. “Unite!” I answered her, reading the signs. “But that doesn’t tell us anything. What’s the deal?”

I looked over at the second person in our alcove, and saw he was a cop. He sighed, with his thumbs hooked into his belt.

“The Union wanted the workers at this Hilton to unionize. They had a vote and the workers didn’t want it. Hilton doesn’t care; a lot of their hotels are union already. But they don’t think the workers should be forced to unionize if they don’t want to. And we are caught in the middle.”

Didn’t expect that answer. “But…They are being pretty loud…Can they do that? I’m not feeling very peaceful. Perhaps they are disturbing my peace?”

Policeman said, “That’s why I’m here. Caught in the middle.”

Hmm. “Don’ t they have a red line? I mean, when I lived in an apartment, there was a limit to how high I could turn the volume up before I got in trouble.”

Apparently the city of Long Beach does not have red line legislation.

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