Resort Unions Attack Free Speech

Photo credit: Sam Gangwer

Photo credit: Sam Gangwer

Labor unions struggled for many long years to earn the right to organize, often in the face of violent opposition. Given that reality, one would think a union as militant as UNITE-HERE Local 11 would be the first to defend and respect the 1st Amendment rights of others.

And one would be wrong.

When a coalition of business and civic leaders held a press conference on March 23 to announce their opposition to a Resort unions-led initiative to impose an $18 minimum wage on a number of Anaheim Resort businesses, an unruly mob of mostly UNITE-HERE members crashed the event with the express intention of disrupting it.

Before the press conference even began, the union protesters physically took over half the staging area for the press conference, preventing coalition members from participating in their own event. They shouted, yelled and otherwise intentionally disrupted the press conference, and generally did their level best to prevent their fellow citizens from exercising their free speech rights. The fascist behavior continued after the press conference ended: when Channel 4 tried to interview Anaheim Chamber of Commerce President Todd Ament, UNITE-HERE members swarmed the interview and shouted over Ament.

Leading the pack was Shakeel Syed, executive director of Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development. OCCORD is a left-wing advocacy group formed, funded and housed by the militant hotel workers union UNITE-HERE Local 11. Where UNITE-HERE goes, OCCORD follows.

I asked Syed why he was interfering with their 1st Amendment rights instead. Syed’s responded by saying “Fuck you” and accusing me of having “blood on my hands.” He rattled a piece of candy, telling me to “suck on my candy” in order to “calm down.” Mind you, I wasn’t yelling at the top of my lugs in a deliberate attempt to prevent another person from having their say.  I pointed out that when the Resort unions held their press conference earlier in the month at the same spot, opponents didn’t interfere with it. This provoked another hot-tempered stream of verbal abuse from Syed.

Joese Gloria chimed in that what the union mob was doing was “democracy in action.” That’s an interesting perspective. Most people think democracy in action is reasoned, often impassioned debate and voting to select our government representatives – not crashing a peaceable gathering of political opponents with the intent of shutting them up.

That’s the revolutionary mentality for you.

One union protesters said to me, “You say democracy is about voting. Then why are you trying to keep people from voting?” When told her that nobody is trying to prevent anyone from voting, she segued into the equally preposterous assertion that more than half of Anaheim residents made poverty wages working at Disneyland.

While ugly, wrong and thuggish, the mob behavior wasn’t surprising nor unprecedented. It was UNITE-HERE Local 11 that literally shut down an Anaheim City Council meeting in December 2015 when it did not get its way on drawing the city council districts map. The mob of union members became so unruly and disruptive that Mayor Tom Tait adjourned the meeting without taking action on the bulk of the council’s agenda.  So much for the rights of those who had business before the council, or even the ability of an elected body to carry out its duties.

UNITE-HERE Local 11 leader Ada Briceno vowed to do it again unless its chosen “People’s Map” were adopted. Briceno never had to carry out that threat, as the council complied.

OCCORD’s Syed also has a history of supporting anti-free speech thuggism: in his prior incarnation as executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, he was an oustpoken supporter of the UCI Muslim Student Union members who in 2011 disrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in an attempt to silence him.  Free speech for me, but not for thee.

Throughout the anti-$18 wage press conference, Syed was unapologetic for his aggressive disruption of the event.

After ambushing and disrupting the opposition’s press conference, UNITE-HERE Local 50 organizer Joseph Murphy led his minion a few feet away to hold their own drum-circle-cum pep rally. No one harassing, disrupting, shouting, yelling and otherwise trying to make it impossible for them to have their gathering – a stark contrast to their contempt for the rights of others express opposing views.

One union protester threatened to “take me down” as I filmed their pep rally; others stuck signs in front of my camera:

[Side note: during the union posse’s post-ambush pep rally, organizer Joseph Murphy exhorted the 20 or so unionists present that they were going to start collecting signatures the next morning at Local 50 headquarters. “Who’s going to be there!” shouted Murphy, expecting a hearty response. Instead, only four union members somewhat hesitantly raised their hands.]

15 comments

  1. SERGIO GONZALEZ

    It is very sad to see an entity that professes to be about democracy and freedom of choice resort to the thuggish theatrics right out of a fascist playbook of the 1920’s. I just attended a Good Friday Prayer Breakfast where the keynote speaker was Dr. Henry Oster. He is a German Jew and is now the last Holocaust survivor, at age 89, from Cologne Germany. (There were 2,011 Jews at the onset of the war in Cologne and only 23 survived the war) In his book: The Kindness Of The Hangman, he mentions how throughout the early 1930’s the NAZI Brownshirt would yell and scream and disrupt any individual or group that did not agree with their doctrine. It eventually escalated to violence and then arrest and removal to parts unknown to those that were opposed to their views. I only mention this because historically it appears that individuals or groups that do not have the truth or facts on their side of whatever agenda they espouse will eventually resort to this type of uncivil behavior. Yes here in the United States we have a First Amendment right to Free Speech but it is not only for selective groups. These factions cannot have it both ways. The “You have Freedom of Speech as long as we approve and it agrees with our views” posturing is beyond old and annoying. Society is tired of the hypocrisy as well as the lack of class, decorum, civility and general thuggish comportment of these groups.

  2. Leftists, Progressives or Socialists, whatever they want to be called are intolerant of opposing views. Their positions are so weak and unrealistic that they have to resort vulgar name calling and childish behavior to defend their positions. I look forward to other meltdowns when their causes and their poster boy Moreno are soundly rejected.

    • Leftist are communists, why would you lump Progressives and Bernie Socialist together. That shows you do not know what your talking about an that your just another Far Right hater. I wasn’t there so can’t comment on the actions of individuals. Unions have helped the working class over the decades.

      • Wrong. “Progressive” is the chosen label that TRUE communists and socialists used to masquerade themselves within the Democratic party. Leftist, on the other hand, was the label used in various other countries to refer to communists or their socialist sympathizers. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a communist sympathizer in his younger years behind Leftist Nicaraguan Sandinista party (communists) Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. In other words, a Socialist in the Democratic Party, like Trump is an Independent in the Republican Party. There was a time when Unions had social value in American. That’s no longer the case. ALL states and Workmans-Comp laws protect employees, making unions worthless leeches on the blue collar workers.

  3. I wish Ada, would have been so vocal when her friend and colleague, Julio Perez was accosting young women.

    These people are weak hypocrites.

    • Some Daze are Diamonds

      Ada said nothing. Moreno said nothing. LeTourneau said nothing. Diamond made up excuses. Nelson said nothing. Daniels said nothing. Tait said nothing. Ward said nothing. Hypocrites

  4. Ma sha ALLAH Mabrook, Janab syed Viqaruddin sahab.

  5. Progressive, Leftist, Socialist or Democrat, it’s all the same and their ideas suck. They have ruined this state and if we are not careful they will ruin Anaheim. Bob T you are correct I am a far right hater. I hate what these idiots have done with California. High speed boondoggle, sanctuary policies, release all the criminals and poop maps, great job Progressive Socialist Democrats, quite a legacy.

  6. Cynthia,

    His young victims thank God, for that.

  7. This is a neat opinion piece, but it displays a profound misunderstanding of the 1st Amendment.

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