HR Strange But True!
October 15, 2004

If motorists passing a union picket line want to express their support for the workers, they typically toot their car horns. But doing that this week outside the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, where hotel workers are embroiled in a labor dispute, got you pulled over by police.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that police issued $50 citations to a dozen motorists "for their sympathetic honking." Many more were warned verbally and saw their license numbers recorded.

Police Capt. Denis O'Leary said the action came in response to noise complaints, including 20 faxed letters from neighborhood businesses. "A lot of them are consultants, therapists," he said. "They need to talk to people, and they can't be heard."'

Initially, O'Leary said, he asked the workers to stop holding signs that urged motorists to "honk for health care." They complied, but people honked anyway. So stronger measures were taken.

It didn't stop with pulling motorists over, either. In another effort to lower the volume, the Fire Department banned its crews from sounding air horns in solidarity with the workers. The department received six complaints about such gestures, according to Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, who said firefighters could be subject to discipline for violating the policy.

A hotel worker on the picket line, Harris Harada, told the Chronicle that police went "a little overboard" in citing motorists.

"I understand people are trying to do their jobs in this area, but the motorists are just trying to show support to us," Harada said. "They are giving citations for that? I don't understand.''

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

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