Calgary - As a secretary in the Calgary Area CUPE office, Pam Smith is no stranger to picket lines. But her eyes were opened when she spent Saturday afternoon and evening on the line at Casino Calgary. In a recent email exchange with other staff, Pam described her experiences. The following is reprinted with her permission.
I spent the afternoon cooking for the rally, then went to watch my son’s football practice, make my family dinner and then back to the casino. I put on my support sign and joined the line. I have to tell you that it was quite an experience and I have to admire not only what the members on strike were doing but the supporters as well.
I was amazed by how calm the strikers were when they spoke with those who tried to cross the line, even after 30 days of talking - sometimes to the same people. I will never forget seeing all the brothers who literally put their lives in the hands of the crazed people who wanted into the casino so badly that they didn’t care who they ran over.
Two in particular make me wonder what kind of society we live in. First, an entertainer so angry he couldn’t get in until he waited four minutes. He jumped out of his vehicle, cursed and threatened to call the police. But was so upset that he couldn’t dial his cell phone, so he jumped back into this vehicle, threw it into gear and attempted to drive ahead with at least 2 or 3 brothers standing right in front of his grill pushing back. Then he got so mad he threw his car into reverse and backed out onto the street with the trailer he was towing whipping back and forth only to start backing up into the parking lot and having Brothers D’Arcy and Victor Patton (Local 40) in between the trailer and his car again pushing against the car. He threw it into drive and whipped out of the parking lot just barely missing Brother D’Arcy. He must have hit Victor since Victor went tearing after the guy with D’Arcy in pursuit telling him it wasn’t worth it and finally catching up to him and having to wrap his arms around him to calm him down. Emotions were very high.
And then a guy in a huge 4X4 went absolutely ape when told that he would have to wait four minutes. He screamed that he was not going to be stopped from going to the casino, revved his engine all while his woman companion screamed at him to stop and not to do anything crazy. When I heard her screaming the first thought that came to my mind was that he was reaching for a gun. He screeched away and the next thing you know there was a commotion on the other side and finally the cops showed up. Not clear on whether or not it was him that the cops were dealing with but I certainly hope so.
After these two, the other goofs attempting to cross seemed tame, but still dangerous. I even found myself in front of vehicles telling them they had to wait their four minutes. I was scared to death they would run me over. I can’t believe that I did that but I got so mad that these people wouldn’t even consider what the strikers were fighting for and their only thought was for themselves.
I had a few words for a taxi driver attempting to cross who finally saw the light when it was brought to his attention that cabbies got an 8 per cent increase because they stood their ground. I explained to him that that was what the strike was all about - sticking together to get what was fair. And I wish I had gotten the license of the old fart who hit me with his side mirror when he was finally let in.
Another big surprise to me was when a police cruiser parked right behind us in the parking lot would not come over when I motioned for them. They sat in their cruiser and totally ignored me. I may be naive but I certainly thought that they would at least roll down their window to find out what I wanted!!
On my drive home I thought about how mad my kids would be if I had gotten hit by one of the wackos and wondered then if I would do what I did again.
I would in a heartbeat.
For more information about the strike at ABS Casino Calgary, go to: www.alberta.cupe.ca/casino.htm