Carl Finamore is former President (retired) of the Air Transport Employees Local Lodge 1781, IAMAW, and currently a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
Each year some 2000 yoga enthusiasts assemble at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco, California for “a great convergence of yogis of all ages and backgrounds” states convention sponsor Yoga Journal. The extremely liberal and tolerant “city by the bay” seems the perfect spot to spiritually and intellectually delve into yoga principles of social service and physical purification.
“But there is one huge problem,” according to 19-year veteran yoga instructor Sri Louise. “There is a huge disconnect with our ethical values by scheduling a convention at a union boycotted hotel that has a lousy safety record and mistreats it employees.”
For a few hours on Friday, January 7, San Francisco’s most contentious and longest-running labor dispute recalled scenes straight out of Hollywood, at least that’s how distinguished law professor Jack Getman saw it.
Speaking from a flat-bed truck parked in front of the city’s one-square block premier downtown Hilton hotel, the Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair Professor at the University of Texas, fired away: “This is like an old western movie where there are good guys and bad guys, and,” pointing his finger toward the hotel doorway entrance, “here in San Francisco, clearly, Hilton management are the bad guys and hotel workers are the good guys.” The sidewalk picket audience of around 100 laughed and cheered, including Getman’s numerous colleagues from the most prominent law schools in the nation.
by Carl Finamore
While air transportation remains among the most heavily unionized industries in the country, Continental ramp agents were also among the largest single group of non-union employees. Now they have made the nation’s fourth-largest airline a union shop from top to bottom.
Workers at Continental spoke for millions who so desperately need collective bargaining rights. Modernizing and democratizing RLA election rights for rail and air transportation workers will greatly advance opportunities for working people to organize themselves and to express their demands and desires for a better life.