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Assemblyman Honors Disneyland Hotel Picket Line : Robinson Cancels Speech; Governor Appears

October 19, 1985|KENNETH F. BUNTING | Times Staff Writer

The handful of striking gardeners and groundskeepers who have kept a vigil around the Disneyland Hotel for the last seven weeks might have thought that no one noticed.

But the pickets got the attention Friday of 400 prison guards who were holding their state convention at the hotel, and some well-known elected officials who were invited to speak.

Democratic Assemblyman Richard Robinson, a former union officer who has received heavy labor support over the years, abruptly canceled a speech to the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. to avoid crossing the picket line by members of Laborers and Hod Carriers Local 652.

But the pickets were no problem for Gov. George Deukmejian, who kept his date to speak to the prison guards later Friday.

"Labor has not been among our biggest supporters," said Kevin Brett, deputy press secretary to the Republican governor. Brett said the question of whether to cross the picket line at the hotel was never raised to the governor and most likely would have made no difference.

Robinson, who sponsored legislation to launch Deukmejian's aggressive prison construction program, had been scheduled as keynote speaker at the convention of the 10,000-member organization of state prison and California Youth Authority guards.

But the Garden Grove Democrat said he didn't know about the union pickets until Thursday.

Robinson said he was not trying to take sides in the labor dispute between the hotel and its grounds-keeping crew. But, he said: "As a matter of conscience, I've never crossed a picket line in my life and I wasn't about to start now."

Robinson was an officer in the Communications Workers union before he won election to the Legislature in 1974.

He said officials of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. were "gracious" when he explained his last-minute decision to cancel.

"We understood," said association spokesman Jeff Thompson. "We are a labor group. . . . He felt he had to do it out of sensitivity to the pickets."

Thompson said some association members applauded when the reason for Robinson's absence was announced at the noon luncheon at which he had been scheduled to speak. The association, which had scheduled its convention at the Anaheim hotel more than a year ago, had warned Robinson about the pickets as a courtesy.

Besides the governor, elected officials scheduled to attend the convention included state Sens. John Seymour (R-Anaheim) and Robert Presley (D-Riverside) and Assemblyman Dave Elder (D-Long Beach). B. T. Collins, chief of staff for former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., is slated to address the group tonight.

The association was to have paid Robinson a $1,000 honorarium to give the convention keynote address.

Although only 17 employees of the hotel are involved in the strike, the local that represents them is one of the largest in the county, with more than 5,000 members.

The union is under court order to limit its pickets to 32 people at specific locations near the hotel.

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board had to cancel a daylong seminar at the hotel because many participants refused to cross the union's picket lines.

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