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September, 1997

Hitler is focus of poster protest

By Mary Moore, The Outlook. Santa Monica.

September 26th, 199

Jewish leaders, local activists, politicians and union organizers condemned the Miramar Sheraton Hotel on Thursday for a poster depicting a man resembling Adolf Hitler that they say was hanging at the hotel.

“As a political activist who has worked for justice, I’ve become used to large corporations attempting to squash working people, but the use of Nazi imagery takes this to a level beyond comprehension,” Santa Monica City Councilman Michael Feinstein said at a news conference Thursday outside the hotel.

In a prepared statement, William Worcester, general manager of the Miramar, said the group’s claim that the figure on the poster was Hitler “could not be more ridiculous, offensive or untrue.”

“The cartoon was not intended to depict any historic character,” he said in the statement. “However, for anyone in the community who found this image offensive, we apologize.”

In an interview the day before, Worcester and an attorney for the hotel would not confirm that the poster causing the recent stir had been hanging in the Miramar. And when shown a photocopy of the cartoon drawing, they said it was not a true likeness of any poster sanctioned by the hotel’s management.

The controversy over the poster comes just before Wednesday’s union election at the Miramar, when workers will decide whether the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, Local 814, should continue its stronghold at the hotel.

The main cartoon character on the poster is a man with a Hitler-like mustache, dressed in military clothes with dollar bills falling out of his pockets. Also depicted is a man who says in Spanish: Pay union dues first, feed your family later if there is money left over.”

Thursday’s news conference turned tense when the group of about 20 pro-union activists moved inside the hotel and police arrived. The activists, who were mainly mingling in the hotel lobby, said they then left the premises without problems.

Members of the group say they went into the hotel to request a spur-of-the-moment meeting with the consultants hired by the Miramar who the activists believe are trying to turn workers against the union before the election. Attorneys representing the Miramar would not confirm that the hotel has hired such a consulting firm.

Worcester said he was not at the hotel Thursday and he was off site the last time the pro-union group gathered at the hotel.


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