Business and News from The Golden State
BY DONNA BALANCIA
The International Longshoremen’s Association filed a lawsuit against Disney
Cruise Line and the Canaveral Port Authority, seeking the court’s approval to
pass out leaflets bearing the mascot Moe the Rat.
Used in conjunction with pickets Moe the Rat is a 15-foot-high statue wheeled
out by the union to boycott companies that use nonunion labor. The union said
use of a rat is not a shot at Disney, whose famous symbol is the happy Mickey
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in
Orlando, alleges Disney and the Port Authority are illegally restricting the
union from protesting Disney’s use of nonunion labor on Disney cruise ships.
The International Longshoremen’s Association represents such cruise-industry
workers as baggage checkers, cargo checkers and clerks.
“This is a violation of our First Amendment rights,” said the union’s attorney,
Neil Flaxman of Coral Gables.
At the heart of the issue is Disney’s use of contractor Florida Transportation
Service Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, which has not reached a bargaining agreement
with its employees.
“All of the workers on the ships — the FTS employees — are actually union
employees. It’s just that FTS won’t sit down to the table,” Flaxman said. “It’s
a question of negotiating an agreement between the FTS and the ILA.”
When the Disney Cruise Line ships Magic or Wonder are in port, union pickets —
and Moe — are present. However, Disney objects to union pickets handing out
leaflets bearing the illustration of the rat at its terminal.
“We have the right to prohibit this type of activity at our terminal and have
advised the union we have the right to do so,” said Angela Bliss, spokeswoman
for Disney Cruise Line. “It’s unfortunate the union has decided to increase the
attacks against us in an effort to gain leverage in its negotiations with FTS.
Ultimately, our primary responsibility is to our guests, so we’re no longer
willing to facilitate the union’s attempt to disrupt our operations.”
A spokesman for Florida Transportation Service declined to comment on the
Attorney Harold Bistline, who represents Canaveral Port Authority, was
unavailable for comment.