Letters

Whatever Floats Your Boat
This in regard to the June 18 article ("With Election, Casino Boat Foes Cry, 'Chips Away!'" Michael Freedman) dealing with casino cruises to nowhere foes in Hollywood. While Joe Schneider and Steve Welsch and their handful of North Hollywood Beach supporters are whining about the two trips a day the SunCruz boat makes, they should first check Title 15, Section 1172 of the U.S. Code (Johnson Act, 1992), allowing states to transport gaming equipment on state waters, and then see Florida House Bill 274 (May 29, 1987), allowing the transport of gaming devices on Florida waters.

The rest of the 120,000 Hollywood residents put up with schools in our neighborhoods (with children trampling on lawns), malls next door to us, train whistles at night, and nearby Gulfstream Race Track (22,000 bettors on opening day and 13,000 every Saturday and Sunday). Just wait until we get slot machines at the Broward parimutuels and a Seminole Tribe casino on Stirling Road. We won't hear Joe and Steve crying then, because they'll probably be with the rest of Broward County enjoying an evening at the slots, a concept that tourists and locals enjoy right now.

Stan Wertheimer
Hollywood

Laboring the Point
This letter is in response to the article "United They Fall" (Paul Belden, May 28). I was surprised to see a story about working people and their issues printed in a newspaper. Usually, wage earners can't even get news coverage, much less front-page attention. Then I read the article and immediately understood why -- it says it all on the cover. The owners of Kitchens of the Ocean "did the only sensible thing," according to your paper, they bailed out when faced with a work force that wanted what most Americans think they have (but don't), which is the right to associate and affiliate. I am disappointed that your writer thinks that employers (20 percent of the population) have that right, and the remaining 80 percent of the country's wage earners have that right only if the employers say they do.

For example, can you imagine an employer being told that if he or she tried to attend a chamber of commerce meeting, they would have to face economic repercussions for doing so? That person would immediately call the police [and complain that someone was] trying to deny his or her basic right to associate and affiliate with organized groups with the purpose of furthering his station in life.

This article was a disservice to the community -- it led the overwhelming majority of residents in this community to believe that there is no hope for them. If it were up to Mr. Belden, the only thing workers need to do is just lie down, roll over, and beg, and maybe the owners will feed them a crumb or two.

It is not over for Kitchens of the Oceans. Our message to Kitchens President Brad Margus, from the AFL-CIO and all its affiliated unions is: "You can run, but you can't hide. We will be waiting in Jacksonville or wherever else you decide to go. You can change your name, but we will find you." Anyone who treats people like Margus does only makes our job easy.

Mike Ozegovich,
Treasurer/Assistant to the President
South Florida AFL-CIO
Miami

Noah's Argh!
Recently a client brought to my attention the article on UNITE and Kitchens of the Oceans, "United They Fall." I am quoted in the article, and I feel that some of the material contained therein was taken out of context and would like to clarify a few points.

Courts do not involve themselves in situations like [that of] Kitchens of the Oceans because UNITE and other unions cannot bring such cases directly to court. They must go to and through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is sorely underfunded and all too often simply unable to vindicate workers' rights. It is an agency composed of good people who are stuck enforcing bad laws. While I do believe that a court would not involve itself in this case, it is because of the procedures involved -- not the merits of UNITE's case.

The remedies provided by the National Labor Relations Act are pathetic at best -- some back pay with interest if you are the victim of illegal antiunion discrimination, no real ability to get injunctions, no punitive damages, no attorneys' fees, and no real justice. The right to unionize is the only civil right that does not provide for adequate fees and damages. This is why I told your reporter that I would inform Kitchens of the consequences of a decision to flee. What would be the worst-case scenario, a slap on the wrist? I do not condone telling a company to break the law, however.

On a final note, I also would like to make it clear that I represent labor unions and their members -- decent, hard-working people. I do not represent scum who abuse their employees and run away when those workers exercise their fundamental right to organize. I agree wholeheartedly with Monica Russo, executive director of UNITE -- such people belong in jail, not in our chambers of commerce.

Noah Scott Warman
Coral Gables

 
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