When approximately 400 management and labor representatives arrived at the Disneyland Hotel on Thursday morning for a daylong seminar in labor law, they encountered something familiar to all of them--a picket line.
Some refused to cross the line, which had been set up by striking maintenance workers at the Anaheim hotel. And other seminar participants who had arrived ahead of the pickets and entered the hotel, walked out after learning of the protest outside the building.
Organizers of the seminar, co-sponsored by the Orange County Industrial Relations Research Assn. and the National Labor Relations Board, decided to cancel it and reschedule it later.
Meanwhile, 16 hotel workers planned to continue their vigil around the clock until a new contract is negotiated with their employer.
"A good union member would not, in good conscience, cross the picket line," said Don Weckstein, an arbitrator and mediator who drove to the seminar from San Diego. Some participants had flown in from Washington and Dallas for the third annual Labor Law Conference.
Since all the labor representatives--or about one-half of the seminar participants--walked out, officials said it made no sense to conduct the seminar, which was designed to have both sides interact on a number of labor-management issues.
"The goal of the conference was to have active participation between the labor and management communities," said Bonnie Castrey, president-elect of the county association.
Castrey, who was responsible for planning and coordinating the event, knows all about labor-management difficulties. As an independent mediator, she said she was up until 5:30 a.m. Thursday trying to settle the dispute between the Disneyland Hotel's management and the maintenance workers who tend its 67 acres.
The workers are protesting a pay cut, pension loss and a proposed clause in their new contract that would allow the hotel to subcontract for some services now performed by the maintenance crews, said Jack Pool, president of Local 652, Laborers and Hod Carriers Union.
Ric Morris, the hotel's personnel and labor relations director, would not comment Thursday on the specifics of the dispute.
However, he commended the workers as "absolute gentlemen" and said there were no confrontations or problems during the picketing. Morris said he did not know how much the conference cancellation would cost the hotel.
While the protest continues, Morris said that the hotel, owned by the Wrather Corp. of Beverly Hills, has hired a temporary subcontractor to work on the landscaping and clean the pools. Those workers who choose to return to work will find their job awaiting them, he added.
However, employees who hold out may eventually be out of a job, since the hotel would consider replacing them permanently after other options are exhausted, Morris said.
The cancellation of Thursday's conference came as a disappointment to members of the county association--professionals who practice collective bargaining as advocates for labor, management or as impartial neutrals--and for the NLRB, a government agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act.
Still, a picket line "is one of the basic principles of unionism," association president Paul Crost said.
Not crossing the picket line, Crost said, is "a way to honor the goals and objectives of the workers who are in a dispute with their employees."