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Manhattan Beach : Strikers Picket Candidate

About 125 striking TWA flight attendants picketed outside Joslyn Center on Monday night, protesting the City Council candidacy of Gerry Johnson, a former TWA flight attendant who came out of retirement last month to work for the airline during the strike.

Attendants, on strike since March 7, carried signs calling Johnson a scab and proclaiming, “You won’t clip our wings!” Johnson is a member of Clipped Wings, a nonprofit organization for former TWA attendants, and she and six other City Council candidates were at the center for a candidates forum.

“She obviously is not the kind of person we want elected in Manhattan Beach,” said striking attendant Bobbi Buescher, a 13-year resident of the city. “She has been totally insensitive to our side of the issue.”

Buescher said about 45 TWA attendants live in Manhattan Beach, about 20 of whom stayed for the forum to ask Johnson about the strike. None of their questions, however, was selected by moderator Rich Roloff, program chairman for the Sand Area Residents Assn., which sponsored the forum.

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“I was trying to ask a broad range of questions that could be answered by all of the candidates,” Roloff said. “They made a tremendous impact on the people just by being here and picketing.”

Johnson, who was escorted from the forum by police officers as one flight attendant sang “God Bless America” and another hissed at her, spoke informally with several pickets as she passed. She said she supports the financially troubled airline in the labor dispute because attendants have been unwilling to compromise on proposals for across-the-board pay cuts.

“I loved this profession so much, and I hate to see its dignity go down with a demonstration like this,” Johnson said, pointing to one of her campaign posters covered with the letters SCAB. Johnson was a flight attendant for four years in the late 1950s.

Police said the demonstration was peaceful.

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