A chanting group of International Ladies Garment Workers Union members picketed the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course Wednesday to protest the marketing of La Mode golf clothing. A security guard said it was the first such event in the club's recent history.
The group of about 40 picketers, who came down from Los Angeles in a van caravan, picketed the members-only club for an hour or so, distributing leaflets asking golfers to boycott the clothing company's wares.
"We find this a very effective way of getting the word out on the boycott," said David Young, Los Angeles organizing director for ILGWU. "Some of the golfers get a little upset because, after all, this disturbs their leisure, their recreation. I know it offends their sensibilities, but this is war."
Chuck Courtney, golf professional at the club, said the "whole thing was a mistake because the golf shop doesn't handle the products (of the La Mode brand) and hasn't for about a year or so."
A deputy from the Encinitas sheriff's station stopped by to monitor the unusual Rancho Santa Fe event but found the picketers to be abiding by the law. Rancho Santa Fe Assn. staff members said the picketing went unnoticed by most residents of the exclusive estate community, but some golfers were disturbed.
A security guard who has patroled Rancho Santa Fe for the past nine years said it was the first labor union picket he had ever seen or heard about in the wealthy community north of San Diego.
About 75% of the mostly Hispanic female workers at La Mode went out on strike July 17, Young said, after the company refused to allow a union election sought by 90% of the work force.
Among the issues in the strike are the workers' wages, which the union wants raised from $4.25 to $5 an hour, lack of medical benefits, and working conditions, Young said.
The firm, in the Watts area of Los Angeles, specializes in embroidering sportswear, including sweaters, shirts and hats, and wholesaling them to golf shops nationwide. Company executives could not be reached for comment.
The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course was not singled out for the informational picket, Young said. Picketing has been going on since July 18, including demonstrations at Lawrence Welk Village north of Escondido, Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista and the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, he said.
About 50 golf shops have signed pledges to remove La Mode golfwear from their shelves and not to sell any of the company's products during the labor strife, Young said.