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DATELINE TEXAS Union-Busting Democrats BY NATE BLAKESLEE Harry “BUzz” Crutcher and George Bristol are unlikely union-busters. Both have been involved in Democratic Party politics in Texas for over thirty years. And both have highlyplaced friends in organized labor Now a Dallas businessman, Buzz worked for Texas Congressman Earle Cabell in the mid-1960s. He still serves as a host for Democratic fund-raisers in Dallas, and contributes regularly, both to candidates and to the party itself. George Bristol worked on the Kennedy-Johnson campaign in 1960. Now he is an Austin lobbyist and a Democratic party fund-raiser at both the state and national level. He has been national co-chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee \(directed two years ago he hosted a fund-raiser for Patrick Kennedy in his Austin office. He is currently working with the Democrat’s Senate campaign committee, headed by Fort Worth Senator Mike Moncrief. Crutcher and Bristol are also part owners of Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana, where Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 427 have been attempting to organize without success since 1995. In July, Local 427 organizer Jacquie Heldt, Grouse Mountain maintenance worker Jerry Wheeler, and fired shuttle bus driver John Hirsch flew to Texas to bring their fight to their absentee bosses’ home territory. Their visits to Austin \(where they appeared on Jim Highwhere they met with Catholic clergy in Crutcher’ s Crutcher and Bristol, whose involvement in the lodge was not widely known. The Grouse Mountain story has also stirred up some sleeping dogs that leaders of organized labor and the Democratic Party in Texas would rather let lie. As the managing partner in charge of day-to-day operations, Crutcher told workers from the outset that he would “oppose vigorously any efforts to unionize Grouse Mountain Lodge.” In the past three years his opposition has been more than just vigorous: according to the National Labor Re AUGUST 28, 1998 lations Board, it’s also been in violation of federal labor law. On July 16, the N.L.R.B. ordered management to cease and desist from, among other things: interrogating employees about union membership or sympathies; threatening loss of privileges or changes in staffing practices if the lodge went union; offering bribes in exchange for rejecting the union; making veiled threats tt: to terminate known supporters of the union; and establishing a bogus company union. Workers have also alleged that several union sympathizers including John Hirsch have been fired, or in some cases “descheduled,” a management tactic resulting in a sort of permanent unpaid limbo for uncooperative employees. “It’s one of those new words that doesn’t put food on the table,” says Heldt. Grouse Mountain Lodge is known for its golf surrounding the hotel are ten courses carved out of some of the most beautiful scenery in North America. Glacier National Park is just a few miles away, as is the world-class Big Mountain ski area. The Lodge caters to corporate clients and high From the Grouse Mountain Lodge promotional brochure end tourists, with room rates ranging from $130 to $190 per night. Yet, according to G.M.L.’ s employees, pay and benefits have never measured up to the hotel’s reputation as the premier resort in the region. “My son quit G.M.L. after ten years,” says mainte nance worker Jerry Wheeler, “and started out at Red Lion fin nearby Kallispell] CVOCietAlatiokini Park Mcvilicoat %…11