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The Corona Ranch Story


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Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433

Below is my letter to the AFL-CIO and Central Labor Council

Dear Chuck Huggins & Ted Murphee:

It is with great displeasure that I find myself writing this letter to you
both, but find that I have no choice but to solicit your help in this
The attachment is a letter from Ron Norton, General Manager of Phoenix
Transit System dated May 24, 2001. This letter has been posted on company
property for all the employees to view.
The letter speaks for itself.
As I spoke with Ron in the beginning of the week he asked me what the
Union's suggestion would be and my reply was since Mr. Smith was unwilling
to meet with us to resolve this issue, my suggestion was to refuse any
further charter work to his location.
Mr. Bill Smith's apology letter is a slap in the face to all our members and
doesn't even address the issue at hand.
Should this remedy presented by Phoenix Transit not be enough for the
affected operators I am recommending to them to seek out private council to
pursue possible legal action.
I also am requesting to you that you bring this matter before your executive
board at your next board meeting and send the word out to all the locals in
Arizona what has happened here and request that a boycott be placed on
Corona Ranch until such time they re-think their position and rejoin the
human race.
I still cannot believe this situation happened. It is mind boggling to even
consider that we have come this far in this country to have such a
despicable thing happen in our community.
Shame on Corona Ranch--shame on you, Mr. Bill Smith.
In the future you will feel the wrath of "service staff".
Joe Mickelson--acting President/Business Agent

Letter to Corona Ranch from Phoenix Transit System

May 24, 2001

Mr. William Smith
Corona Ranch
5724 North 24th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85016

Re: Incident on April 27, 2001

Mr. Smith:

We are in receipt of your letter of apology dated May 18, 2001. We will certainly pass it on to our employees. Unfortunately, our interest and concern with what happened that evening are broader than you seem to acknowledge or understand. An in depth examination of the events of that evening have caused more concerns than can be reasonably dismissed by your apology. And while we dont wish to belabor the point, we feel it is important that you fully understand why this situation is being viewed so seriously.

As you know, our presence on your property that evening revolved around our participation in a charter movement that was booked by Carey Limousine. We had a total of nine buses helping to transport your guests between the Pointe South Mountain Resort and Corona Ranch that evening. Six of our nine employees participated in the inbound movement of guests along with three other bus operators not employed by our Company. Our remaining employees were sent for the outbound movement of guests later in the evening.

At some point following their arrival, the first group of employees were allowed to enjoy a complimentary meal, which is a courtesy often extended to tour and charter bus operators. My employees sat together in the dining area, while the other non-employees chose to return to their buses to eat their meals.

The problems arose when my final three employees arrived and attempted to enjoy the courtesy meal that had been extended to their fellow employees. Much to their surprise, they were rudely confronted by what they initially believed to be an errant staff person and were advised that Corona Ranch does not feed service staff. However, as Mr. Hanley learned in his telephone conversation with you, it wasnt an errant staff person involved in this matter. You advised him that you personally had been the individual who had confronted these three employees, and it was you who had physically taken the plate of food from one of them and put it in the trash. This left our employees feeling belittled and humiliated for being treated in such an unprofessional and demeaning manner.

This unfortunate incident was further exacerbated when these three employees, two of whom are African Americans with the third being Hispanic, learned that someone (presumably you) had angrily gone to the buses in the parking lot and had treated the other three non Phoenix
Transit System bus operators in a similar manner. They also happened to be of African American decent. Considering the fact that the six operators who had dined earlier without incident happened to be Caucasian, the remaining employees, all of whom were members of minority groups, concluded that this attack might have been racially motivated.

We too are concerned about the reasons why a business owner, like yourself, would display such a blatant disregard for your guests even though you certainly made it clear to Mr. Hanley that you dont consider service staff to be customers or guests. However, as you know, the very next night we held our annual Employee Recognition Awards Banquet, with over 800 people in attendance, at your facility. I find it almost as ironic as it is unfortunate that service staff on one night would be considered guests the next evening.

Nevertheless, while I cannot do anything about the way you choose to operate your business, I can do something about the way I operate mine. Our approaches to business are very different. Like you, we too are in the service business; however, we believe that all people, regardless of the way they might come into contact with us, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We make no exceptions for their positions or status in life. It is with a sense of real sadness and loss that I must inform you that our Company will no longer accept charter requests to your place of business, and of course, we will not be returning as a paying client as well.

When I have to make a decision at Phoenix Transit System that has far reaching implications, I always ask myself, Will this pass the headline test in the Arizona Republic. I firmly believe this incident would not pass the test.

In closing, it is apparent that our decision in this matter is not good for either of our businesses, however, we are firmly committed to our values and to the principle of fair treatment to all with whom we come in contact. Conversely, we find your values in this regard to be both offensive and unprofessional. While we are willing to renew our offer to meet with you so we might resolve this matter to our mutual satisfaction and benefit, I must inform you that if this is not an issue of any importance to you and your partners, we will stand by our decision now and in the future.


Ron Norton
General Manager

c: Amalgamated Transit Union
City of Phoenix
Carey Limousine
Phil Hanley

ATU Local 1433 * P.O. Box 4363 * Phoenix * AZ * 85030