Landscape workers from Disneyland Hotel marked their first month of picketing their employer on Friday.
In that month, negotiations between the two parties have remained at a standstill. Last week, a court issued a restraining order restricting the number and location of pickets. Meanwhile, the hotel filed a $10-million lawsuit against three union officials.
Restricted to seven spots and 32 picketers at the Anaheim hotel, the 13 employees who have held out and remain picketing, along with other members of the 5,000-strong Local 652, recently began holding informational picketing at Long Beach's Queen Mary, also owned by the Wrather Corp. of Beverly Hills, which owns the Disneyland Hotel.
The monthlong strike has been a drain--both financially and emotionally--on the gardeners, who have had no steady income, union officials said. The strike also has been taxing on hotel personnel, who have worked overtime and faced the stress of seeing their friends, many of whom have worked as gardeners at the hotel from 15 to 22 years, picketing the area, hotel officials said.
For Ric Morris, the hotel's personnel and labor relations director, the issue extended into his personal life, he said. Last week, Morris had security officers guarding his home after union officials "threatened to picket my house."
While speaking highly of the 13 employees from an original pool of 17 gardeners who went on strike Sept. 4, Morris was not as generous to officials from the Laborers and Hod Carriers Union.
Last week, the hotel sought a temporary restraining order to restrict the picketers' number to 10 and their locations to 50 yards from the hotel. "That would have put us in the middle of the street," said Steve Holguin, an attorney for the union. North Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Thomas Keenan modified the restraining order to 32 picketers and seven locations in a Sept. 23 ruling.
Hotel officials also have filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court against three union officials, citing a loss of business due to the strike. The lawsuit calls for $10 million in punitive damages and a yet-undetermined amount to compensate for lost business, Holguin said.
Joe Lara, one of the union officials named in the lawsuit, called the suit "harassment--that's all it is."
Lara said that the union's main argument with the hotel is a proposed clause in a new contract that would allow management to subcontract some of the work, which he said "would cancel each and everyone's job." The landscape workers' three-year contract expired Sept. 1.
Although the hotel has hired temporary replacement workers, Morris said: "I want all my employees back to work. I do not foresee in the near future permanently replacing them."
Morris could not say Thursday how much the picketing has cost the 1,124-room hotel. The cancellation of a Sept. 5 seminar co-sponsored by two labor and management groups cost the hotel at least $8,000 when about 400 people either refused to cross the picket line or left the hotel when the seminar was canceled, he said.