Undercurrents

Leave it to the City of Sunrise to violate all kinds of human rights when it was supposed to help celebrate freedom on the Fourth of July.

Rights like the one to bear an umbrella. The freedom of photography. And the inalienable right to wear wheels on your feet, no matter what your race, creed, or color.

It's true. In a move that would have warmed Stalin's cold dead heart, city officials decided to ban umbrellas, cameras, and Rollerblades at the city's Independence Day fireworks show in Welleby Park.

According to the female guards -- oops, we mean volunteers -- who sat at the entrance of the park collecting all the subversive contraband they could spot, the umbrellas were barred from the proceedings because of the possibility of people "poking" each other.

The cameras were taboo, the volunteers said, because the musical acts who played on the stage said so. "I guess they were afraid somebody would take a picture of them picking their nose," explained one of the women who may have risked imprisonment for speaking out with such a dissenting, cynical voice.

A reason for outlawing Rollerblades wasn't forthcoming. One can only imagine it had something to do with the word "blade" in the name and fears that someone might fashion them into a shank for attacking revelers.

City officials didn't return phone calls, though City Manager Pat Salerno did distance himself from the crackdown, saying, "I don't deal with those things."

Somebody call Amnesty International.

Local radical union UNITE is learning just how tough it is to play hardball without a big stick.

Six weeks after New Times reported that some members were blaming the union for the imminent loss of their jobs, the union flexed some muscle, rallying more than 100 protesters outside Deerfield Beach-based Kitchens of the Oceans to protest the shrimp-processing plant's upcoming move to Jacksonville. As a show of force, the protest was a great success.

As a way of plugging leaks and shoring up support, however, it wasn't. In the week since the protest, at least 20 union members (or 10 percent of the union membership) have signed up to follow the company to Jacksonville, says company president Brad Margus.

This has been an especially bitter struggle from the beginning. After Margus announced his decision to move, the union vowed a fight to the finish. But last month the National Labor Relations Board refused to issue a complaint in the matter, so the union had to back off.

Now that UNITE has been forced into tacit acceptance of the move by virtue of its agreement to negotiate severance packages, it's having trouble bringing pressure to bear when all it has is carrots to offer and no big stick. And Margus says that before he'll agree to offer a severance package, the union is going to have to give him one of those carrots.

The union, he says, has to stop filing complaints with the NLRB on behalf of specific union members before he'll budge. The money the company spends to defend itself against such complaints, Margus says, "could have been used for severance pay."

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1572, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbroward.com.

 
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