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tVIY-E YOUR SPIRITS Pi Ti-lt ilOUST0111 -10fE 11 fli ETROLIJORLD T001 .00plus tax Package includes: commodations, Double Occupancy Two tickets to Astroworld or $166.00 plus 15% tax ,,,,Two nights Accommodations Two tickets to Astroworld Additional discounted Astroworld tickets are available for purchase at the hotel. The newly renovated Hobby Airport Hilton allows you easy access to many popular Texas attractions, including the Astrodome 10 minutes, NASA 20 minutes, Galveston Island 45 minutes, Galleria shopping 20 minutes, Gulf Greyhound Park 30 minutes, and Downtown 20 minutes. During your stay, enjoy free HBO, new 25″ TV’s, fine dining, and our Sundance Lounge. Cool off in our beautiful pool nestled in a beautiful Mediterranean style setting. Package available through September 1996 and valid Thursday Sunday, based on availability. Limited availability, advanced reservations required. Offer can not be combined with other promotional offers, award stays, or group stays. For reservations, call your professional travel agent or contact 1-800-HILTONS. _3E Houston Hobby Airport oc ifr v er4… 8181 Airport Road, Houston, TX 77061 713-645-3000 Fax 713-645-1409 says. “We’re feisty and scrappy, not dominant.” The difficult organizing situation is perpetuated by anti-union legislation. In Texas, public employees are prohibited by law from having a union contract. Thus, for example, although teachers can have a union, and they can have a contract, they cannot use the collective bargaining power of the union to determine the contract; the contract is a one-way proposition given them by the school district. Also, Texas is a so-called “right-to-work” or “open-shop” state, where organizing is made more difficult because a union vote is not binding on all employees. In a closed-shop statelike California or New York or Illinois or any one of twenty-three statesonce a company’s work-force has voted in the union, every employee hired thereafter is required to join. “Let’s just say Texas is a very business-friendly environment,” says Randall Saunders, one the four staffers working for Local 100. Saunders worked as a mechanic for twenty-seven years, in Mistorque on the crankshaft wrenches got to his elbows, and his agitating with the machinists’ union got to his bosses. He began finding that first interviews for jobs would go welland then he wouldn’t get called back, because word had gotten around that he was trouble. Saunders has been working for the SEIU as a paid rep for six months. He wears a straw hat with buttons: “We strike from within: Hospital Workers,” and “Robin Hood was right.” Carol Young knows what it’s like to get a union started. Wiry and tenacious, she fought for eight years before she unionized the nursing home where she works in West Virginia. “It was hell,” she says, dragging on one of her ever-present cigarettes. “The first time it came up, it was voted downhanging onto your job for eight years after that, it was hell.” The management got pretty creative in their opposition. They calculated what union dues would total over the course of a year \(dues are set at 1.5 percent of salary, so a went out and bought a table’s worth of groceries equaling that amount to use as psychological leverage. The organizers can get pretty creative themselves. The first job of an organizer is just to get the names of the workers in the company they’re trying to organize. That can mean everything from dumpster diving to tracing license plate numbers. For the Head Start project, the organizers conducted a free raffle to win $100. The Head Start employees filled out the raffle tickets with their names, addresses, and phone numbers, and voila!the contacts with which to start an organizing campaign. During the blitz, the union organizers spend their evenings making house calls to likely prospects. Over breakfast, one of the out-of-town M/Os asks me who I am. “I’m a spy,” I say, joking. “No, we’re the spies,” answers another, and they all laugh. There’s definitely an outlaw atmosphere, this crossing of limits in the name of right and justice. It’s very intoxicating. “It’s psychological warfare,” Saunders says. “Get them to show their true colors. The union can’t be seen as intimidated by management, or else there’s no reason to have a union.” The M/O blitz experiment has not been an unqualified success. For starters, any Texan might have told the International that bringing folks to Houston in July to stand around outside and argue was probably not the most natural-born brilliant idea. And there were 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER grumblings among the guinea-pig blitzers that the days were cruelly long, and conditions poor. One could look skeptically at then scant 110 union cards brought in during the two-week blitzthat’s less than eight cards signed per day to show for fourteen people’s concerted efforts \(the four-person staff had already gathered 240 in still to be worked out of the machine. But if another purpose has been to train organized workers, oneby-one, to organize more workers, it has had at least some success. “I’ve never organized before, so I’m learning a lot,” says Santos, her eyes still lit up despite almost two weeks of fifteen-hour days and Denny’s Grand Slam breakfasts. “If they send me anywhere else, I will go. I’m ready to start.” Freelance writer Ann Walton Sieber woke blearily with the blitzers, and published an earlier version of this story in the Houston weekly, Public News. The Hilton logo and logotype are registered trademarks of Hilton Hotels Corporation. 1996 Hilton Hotels. AUGUST 30, 1996