Gee, Thanks

After getting bashed for his union activism, Louis Chatel is now doing some union-bashing of his own. No, anti-labor goons didn't beat him into submission. It's the union that changed his mind.

Chatel, 67, was hired last spring by United Food and Commercial Workers to picket a non-union grocery store -- Bernie and the Boys in Burien. While picketing, Chatel was attacked by the store owner. When he turned to UFCW Local 1105 for help, he was dissed. The union didn't want any part of it.

"The people that are out there picketing have no protection," says Chatel, because the union won't necessarily back them when they get into trouble. Chatel was on the line by himself, and when he took a break, Bernie's owner, Joe Salle, drove over Chatel's signs with the store van, Chatel says.

Then Salle took Chatel to court for assault, claiming he was the victim. Chatel and his attorney convinced the prosecutor to drop the charges. But the eight court appearances the case required brought Chatel's lawyer fees to almost $5,000--a price he could not afford with the $7 an hour the union paid him to picket.

The union doesn't think they left Chatel in the lurch. Sharon McCann, president of the Local 1105, says the union's mission is to advocate for all working families in the King County area; but she says the union draws the line at violence.

Chatel reminds the union, "You're not guilty until you're found guilty." But the union says that's a matter of opinion. -- ALEXANDRA HOLLY-GOTTLIEB


Student Council

Late last week, with 25 days left to go in the city council race, candidate Cheryl Chow took a job as interim high school principal at Garfield. This raises a basic question: Who does Chow have less respect for, Seattle voters or Seattle high schoolers?

The Garfield kids deserve a principal who is focused 100 percent on the job; preferably, one who isn't going to leave after November 2 if she wins the election. Meanwhile, the voters deserve a candidate who isn't preoccupied with detention, SAT scores, and dress codes.

Chow told the P-I that she could do all her campaigning in the evening. With Seattle landlords setting up a political action committee on Chow's behalf -- supplying the cash to roll out some serious independent expenditures -- it's no wonder she's blasé about her campaign trail responsibilities. -- JOSH FEIT

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