Rocking Arnold's world

LOS ANGELES — When musical composer Aaron Copland was commissioned by the Works Projects Administration to write “Fanfare for the Common Man,” it must have been with public workers in mind.

Two thousand public workers can’t be wrong. That is the multitude that turned out on March 16 to greet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Westin-owned Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Unions mobilized their members in record numbers for the protest at the governor’s fundraising dinner, where he sought to raise money for his proposed ballot initiatives that attack public employees, their unions and their retirement plans. The posh hotel where the dinner was held is on the boycott list of UNITE-HERE Local 11. The Century Plaza is part of the LA Hotel Employers Group that is stonewalling in their negotiations with the union.

As Schwarzenegger’s entourage arrived at the hotel in two white Hummer limousines, the crowd swelled, and some workers began to rock the first car with the personal license plate proudly proclaiming that “Arnold” had arrived. The crowd chanted, “Shame on you!” and “Arnold, Arnold you’re no good, please go back to Hollywood.”

It was a kind of union “shock and awe” that comes from years of battering at work. This was the workers’ chance to tell the boss exactly what they felt about his vicious proposals. One worker in the crowd put it this way: “We’ve got to follow Arnold wherever he goes until he gets the message. California works because we do.”