Shame on the UN
May 3, 2003 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Food Fight - When the Food Workers Union stages an impromptu walkout at the U.N., the diplomats start looting for lunch and booze. Disgusting. Delegates and patronage employees show their civility by looting the cafeterias, stealing everything not nailed down. I will remember this the next time anybody proposes the UN as a solution to world problems. Swine.
posted by kablam (70 comments total)

 
What would Rumsfeld do?
posted by tpoh.org at 9:15 PM on May 3, 2003


Let the hungry eat!
posted by pemulis at 9:16 PM on May 3, 2003


rove: "then, a rash of news items paints the UN as a bunch of swine. yeah, that's the ticket!"
bush: "bu-duh, what karl said."
posted by quonsar at 9:18 PM on May 3, 2003


Yes, I think that this is certainly a valid argument against international diplomacy. ROLL ANOTHER FATWA BOYS, IT'S JIHAD TIME
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:19 PM on May 3, 2003


OK, kablam, but now tell us what you really think.

It's a wonder that these food riots don't happen more frequently. The corporate lunch industry is basically a cartel of Aramark, Sodexho, and a few other players. The quality is typically one step above high school, and the pricing structure is laughably arbitrary.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:22 PM on May 3, 2003


The UN assembly has representatives selected by every government on earth. They're as disperate and divided as all the world's countries. You can't lump them together as a single-minded institution like this. To say "the UN are swine" is to say "all the world's governments are swine, except possibly my one".

So is that what you really think?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:30 PM on May 3, 2003


of course that's what he thinks. christ, it's practically scripted.
posted by quonsar at 9:31 PM on May 3, 2003


Seriously, is there any way this article, and this post, could be more shaped to fit the "hey, let's discuss how stupid and irrelevant the UN is" argument?

Last time I checked, there are certain cafeterias in the U.S. government that don't exactly have much to say in the "look, we're grown-ups" department, either.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:40 PM on May 3, 2003


that they are in New York City, host to the finest restaurants in the world, and eat at the f**king cafeteria is punishment enough. Barbarians.

I can see the benefit of liberating the booze, though. Can't fault them there.
posted by UncleFes at 9:55 PM on May 3, 2003


I'm going to make it a point to use the word 'swine' in a future post if it involves president Bush or any of the administration. Just because.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:14 PM on May 3, 2003


Auf weidersehen and Au revoir? Mais oui!
posted by hama7 at 10:18 PM on May 3, 2003


Mob justice at its most dignified. And I mean that in a good way.
posted by son_of_minya at 10:36 PM on May 3, 2003


Note to food service workers - When working with people who have diplomatic immunity, you should probably avoid pissing them off and then leaving them alone with your stuff.

If you ask me, they deserved it. International diplomacy is too important for idiots to mess up with strikes.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:04 PM on May 3, 2003


Who Works at the UN? seems relevant here. But really, this could have happened at any corporate cafeteria. The assumption one might have here is that the responsibility for the "looting" lies in the official who sanctioned it, which wsa completely unnecessary: I used to work just blocks from the UN, at One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, and there are plenty of restaurants up and down 2nd Avenue, including superb sandwich-in-a-minute delis, street dog vendors, fast food where they clean your table before you stop eating, an Original Ray's Pizza, a Nathan's, and a smoothie place (presumably changed little from 15 years thence). It certainly would have been less convenient and involved passing the security checkpoints but the staff could have foraged in the ... gasp ... wilds of Midtown.
posted by dhartung at 11:14 PM on May 3, 2003


Yes, it was those evil dastardly corporations who forced these poor, ethnically diverse (we can't affix the blame to one ethnicity or culture, therefore it must not be), diplomatically immune sensitive types to go without their second courses or coffee service.

Oh, and the food service workers, they deserved it.

Is this line of thinking a response to the slant in kablam's post, or do you actually believe these justifications? Or is it that you wanted to give the pretense of having a witty dialogue with the one-liners..?

Or is this merely another Kitty Genovese and an East LA Riot rolled into one, and we can forgive the moral ambiguity as they mold international diplomacy with their pockets clinking from the cafeteria silverware?
posted by jazzkat11 at 11:27 PM on May 3, 2003


Well, my main thought here is this -


U.N. = Extremely Important

Food Service employees = Not very important


So, when food service employees begin to put their inane contractual points over something important like international diplomacy, they're being complete jackasses and deserve something mildly bad to happen to them. I think their parent corporation losing a bit of money through stolen items fits the bill just right. Maybe next time they'll put important concepts like peace on earth and human rights in front of things like insipid debates over vacation pay.

However, this is not exactly improving my opinion of the diplomats, either.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:40 PM on May 3, 2003


It's all Kablam's fault, including the incident itself.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:41 PM on May 3, 2003


Kablam - Perfectly interesting post and perfectly inappropriately presented.

This really is pathetic though. I mean, I would be ashamed and disappointed in human nature if this occurred among the student body at my college. When this is happening among a group of this nature, it's pretty easy to lose the scraps of faith in humanity that I try to hang on to.
But hey, at least they didn't kill anybody... I can still hang on to that, right?
posted by Wingy at 12:01 AM on May 4, 2003


So, when food service employees begin to put their inane contractual points over something important like international diplomacy, they're being complete jackasses and deserve something mildly bad to happen to them.

For the food service employees and their families, this is not something inane for them. Are you personally willing to forgo your holiday pay for the UN?

This reminds me of who has the actual power. Is it all so easy to forget the west coast dock unloaders who almost crippled the US economy not so long ago (with a little bit of help from Greenspan's just in time distribution restructuring)?

But that aside, I agree with you, Mitrovarr. This does not improve my opinion of the diplomats either.
posted by jazzkat11 at 12:22 AM on May 4, 2003


Wow, I must be missing some facts here!

Nobody has mentioned this is theft. Are the police involved? This is a crime.

They've taken food that they would normally have to pay for. Yes, no-one on the register to take the money, but it's still theft. If the cafeteria is not staffed, you go to one that is, outside of the building.....not see it as an opportunity to steal. If I walk into a shop and the person on the register happens to be chatting in the backroom with her employees, does that give me a right to take clothes of the rack and walk-out, free of guilt because it's the shop's fault for not having staff nearby?

Don't they strip naked the looters in Iraq? How about embarrassing some of these UN diplomats?
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:26 AM on May 4, 2003


....and tattoo "Ali-Baba" on them too.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:27 AM on May 4, 2003


... or write it in felt tip, as was done in Baghdad.

Geez! Talk about exaggerating...
posted by jpburns at 3:46 AM on May 4, 2003


Amazing. I find it almost unbelievable that the UN support contingent is out in full force in this thread, and is defending criminal mob behaviour for some mysterious reason. Folks, we're talking about theft here. They took goods which did not belong to them. They took everything that wasn't nailed to the floor. And YOU are defending them. Sick.

The last thing the UN needs right now is an incident of this nature -- the UN is further marginalizing itself (sorry, but this sort of mob behaviour DOES say something about the organization, whether you like it or not) in the minds of many people.
posted by syzygy at 4:01 AM on May 4, 2003


They are people in power, famous, semi glamorous, and possibly have ideology I agree with therefore it is "ok" and perhaps even cute that they steal. No one is around so we're stealing all the silverware and looting the bar, well who wouldn't? He who leaves his booze unguarded today will be drinking water tomorrow.

Please, obviously U.N. delegates are our new charming and devious rapscallions, huzzah! Let us acceptingly sit back and wait for Jackass or some similar show to do the "UN Cuts Loose" episode.

Frankly, as a consumer of institutional food, they must eat far better than I. If my cafeteria was empty I'd take it as a sign that my urge to eat out was justified. Plus, I'm not a thief. Also, I suppose if I looted my cafeteria I'd face nifty consequences via cameras.

This inspires me to gain position such that I will have good cafeteria food and be above the law. What more could a body ask for?
posted by rudyfink at 4:08 AM on May 4, 2003


What more could a body ask for? Just speaking for myself, I'd want diplomatic immunity.
posted by faceonmars at 5:23 AM on May 4, 2003


Disgusting. Delegates and patronage employees show their civility by looting the cafeterias, stealing everything not nailed down. I will remember this the next time anybody proposes the UN as a solution to world problems. Swine.

The actions of the diplomats may have been out of order, but to use this as an excuse to join the mass UN-bashing going on at the moment offends me a hundred times more. There'll almost certainly be some kind of deal to reimburse the company, no doubt an unnecessarily generous one. Besides, I find it hard to cry any tears for the woes of a massive catering firm that causes itself problems by treating its workers like dirt.

If people want to rubbish the UN, they should do so on the basis of the way it performs its functions, instead of dirt-cheap opportunism like this. Perhaps all the people with an axe to grind have started to realise that "they don't always do what Bush tells them to" is wearing just a little thin?

The last thing the UN needs right now is an incident of this nature -- the UN is further marginalizing itself (sorry, but this sort of mob behaviour DOES say something about the organization, whether you like it or not) in the minds of many people.

I beg to differ: it says something about the way you like to see the organisation. And in what sense the UN marginalising itself because of a few hungry people getting some lunch? Trying to draw parallels between world diplomacy and a few hungry people behaving a little badly is just silly.
posted by zygoticmynci at 5:32 AM on May 4, 2003


Also, note that it wasn't just the diplomats - all UN workers eat in the cafeteria as well. The article, in its drive to sensationalize the story, didn't stress that heavily at all.
posted by UKnowForKids at 5:49 AM on May 4, 2003


The UN apparently consists of people I wouldn't want to invite to my house.
posted by alumshubby at 6:13 AM on May 4, 2003


wouldn't this be largely americans? obviously the un must house a pile of diplomats, but won't it also employ a huge number of local people to do all the maintenance and support work?
posted by andrew cooke at 6:23 AM on May 4, 2003


And in what sense the UN marginalising itself because of a few hungry people getting some lunch? Trying to draw parallels between world diplomacy and a few hungry people behaving a little badly is just silly.

A few hundred hungry people stealing more than $9000 worth of food, plus an unknown quantity of silverware, fixtures, and any other goods that could be carried away.

I can't believe you're seriously trying to justify this and shrug it off as "a few hungry people behaving badly." Insane.

Andrew: Not sure about the UN composition in NY, but I am pretty certain it would be made up largely, if not mostly, of foreign nationals, as the UN hires employees from less-well-off countries whenever possible.

The majority of the UN staff here in Vienna is made up of non Austrians (this does not include contract service workers, such as foodservice employees).
posted by syzygy at 6:34 AM on May 4, 2003


It's actually a sign of poor health to be hungry when missing a meal. The human body is designed to store energy and have it available when needed those who eat proper diets can skip meals and not feel panicked. I'm guessing the caloric content to nutrient quality ratio of the food at the U.N. is piss poor to begin with meaning we have malnourished leaders, kind of ironic.
posted by stbalbach at 6:41 AM on May 4, 2003


Rawr! Diplomat hungry!

Freedom fries?!

Diplomat smash!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:46 AM on May 4, 2003


Anectdotally syzygy, I don't live in New York anymore but I recall that there were a significant number of Americans working at the UN in the service jobs the holders of which are most likely to be eating in a cafeteria. Foreign nationals usually hold the administrative and diplomatic - i.e., higher paying and more likely to eat at the dozens of better restaurants in the area - positions.

That either of the opposing sides in the "UN is useless / UN is indispensible" debate should see cause to use this as fueling their argument shows nothing so much as the desperation of both extremes. The UN staff is made up of people, people who behaved precisely as mobs behave in every other country and culture in a crisis situation. To paint the entire organization and its work with the brush of this single example of behaviour is simple minded. Then again, so are both the "UN is useless" and "UN is indispensible" positions, and that hasn't stopped anyone yet...
posted by JollyWanker at 6:48 AM on May 4, 2003


I'm astounded by all the people who think that the UN diplomats had the right to do this because they were "more important". Being important doesn't give you the right to steal. And remember, they didn't just take food, but silverware. That's theft, plain and simple. And if you're asking why the cops weren't called in, its because all the suspects have diplomatic immunity anyway. And remember, money doesn't grow on trees. If the company loses money, they're not going to take a hit; it's going to eventually come out of the salaries of the low-level workers.

As for making a settlement, that's irrelevant. It doesn't change the fact that the UN is populated by officials who thought nothing of stealing. Oh, and in case you're wondering why they didn't go to one of the area restaurants, the World Bank folks in DC tend to use their own cafeterias a lot too, as they're cheaper. Because of course, businesses run by the UN and World Bank don't need to pay taxes like the rest of us.
posted by unreason at 6:50 AM on May 4, 2003


Is it just me, or does this article have all of the tact of a Liz Smith gossip column? It just feels more like something in the NY Post, but maybe there's been a decline in Time quality.

no desserts, no cleanup, no coffee for Kofi.

But here's my pertinent question: is it rude to refer to the Secretary General by just "Kofi"? Would it be better to refer to him as "Annan" -- or is "Kofi" his culturally-dictated surname?
posted by grabbingsand at 7:27 AM on May 4, 2003


I remember a big fuss about vandalism by the outgoing Clinton White House Staff....perhaps this account is similarly overblown?
posted by cookie-k at 7:34 AM on May 4, 2003


I can't believe you're seriously trying to justify this and shrug it off as "a few hungry people behaving badly." Insane.

I'm not trying to justify it, that's not really the issue. I'm saying it has absolutely bugger all to do with the UN's operation as a diplomatic entity, and claiming otherwise is nothing more than puerile point-scoring.

I'm astounded by all the people who think that the UN diplomats had the right to do this because they were "more important".

I don't think anyone's saying they had the right to do it per se. People do things they shouldn't, reparations will no doubt be made, and whilst I don't agree with what they they were doing at the same time I don't think it's a big deal. What I do object to is this being turned into a political issue, something for which Time should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. I suppose the comfort I draw is that if the most damning accusation that people can level at the UN is "some people who work there stole cheap cutlery" then perhaps it's not as doomed as I fear.
posted by zygoticmynci at 7:39 AM on May 4, 2003


The UN staff is made up of people, people who behaved precisely as mobs behave in every other country and culture in a crisis situation. [emphasis mine]

Hehe...
posted by Witty at 7:46 AM on May 4, 2003


zygoticmynci: Everything you say is true. But you can't deny that an event like this further tarnishes an already weakening image.
posted by Witty at 7:52 AM on May 4, 2003


"Already?" When was the image of the U.N. weakened before? Or did you just prove zygoticmynci's point?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:05 AM on May 4, 2003


But as tensions grew and stomachs growled, a high-ranking U.N. official boldly ordered that all the cafeterias open their doors for business even without staff.
So, apparently, this was done by mostly low-level workers who had permission from their boss (or, at least, a higher-up). I don't see what I'm supposed to be shocked about.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:06 AM on May 4, 2003


While an ugly incident, this story is short on facts that give it any proportion. It doesn't tell how many cafeterias were involved, how many people work at the UN buildings, how many diplomats, etc. The quotes are all unattributed. Deep into the story, it does mention that it took place in a 40 acre complex.

It insinuates it was the diplomats who did the cafeteria raiding, when it could as likely be any of the thousands of people employed as support staff. Like a gossip column, it refers to "some well-known diplomats" who had free drinks. It also refers to a mob...of 10? Of 50? Of thousands? A mob of diplomats? Of secretaries? Of janitors? We don't know, but some here have decided that it is the "powerful, famous and semi-glamorous" and that the "UN is populated by officials who thought nothing of stealing."

Here's a tour of the UN headquarters and another tour. This info puts support staff at more than 4,500 people. That doesn't include the diplomats and their staff. It lists the premises as 18 acres with four buildings, one being a 39 story building.

And from dhartung's link Who works for the UN
"Are diplomats posted at the UN members of its staff?
No...these diplomats represent and work for their governments, not for the UN. All Member States maintain permanent missions in New York, which are, in effect, their countries' embassies to the UN. Missions are headed by ambassadors, known as permanent representatives, who make up the core of the diplomatic community in New York."


How many diplomats? From September to December, this includes more than 3000 people. I couldn't find anything about how many are in session right now, but I would imagine TIME magazine should have been able to! Shoddy reporting - long on sensation, short on facts!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:53 AM on May 4, 2003


I'm saying it has absolutely bugger all to do with the UN's operation as a diplomatic entity, and claiming otherwise is nothing more than puerile point-scoring.

Perhaps you'd like to point out where in my posts I have claimed otherwise. I have said that the UN should be embarrassed, that the actions were criminal and reprehensible, and that a stupid display such as this can only serve to diminish the organization's reputation in the eyes of many who will hear this story.

JollyWanker: I'm certain there are a significant number of American employees at the UN in New York.

madamjujulive: I agree that the reporting was shoddy, but the incident certainly doesn't paint a pretty picture of the organization, no matter which employees took part in the theft.
posted by syzygy at 8:59 AM on May 4, 2003


Food Service employees = Not very important

I don't give a damn about the story, which is utterly trivial, but remarks like this provide a damning insight into the way some people think. MeFi, like the UN, is just a random subset of the screwed-up human race.
posted by languagehat at 9:02 AM on May 4, 2003


I've eaten at the UN cafeteria (a friend used to cover the organization for the BBC). It's much better than the term "cafeteria" may lead you to believe, more a very diverse buffet. The entire strata of people based at the UN seem to use it. It also looks cool, in a '60s Hitchcock movie way. Personally, I would have made off with some of the furniture.
posted by liam at 9:19 AM on May 4, 2003


If I own a restaurant. And I decide to let people come in and take whatever they want, there is absolutely no way it can be called "looting". Even if I subcontract out the actual running of the place. The word 'looting' here is totally inappropriate and incendiary.

Also, nothing "bad" happened to the workers, they were all out on strike.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 AM on May 4, 2003


Did you really think that statement through Delmoi, or do you really believe that?
posted by jazzkat11 at 11:16 AM on May 4, 2003


XQUZYPHYR: I suppose it's a matter of opinion.
posted by Witty at 12:20 PM on May 4, 2003


Nice to get a warning on right-wing radio's next "dead horse of the week." Whip away, boys!
posted by Dirjy at 12:22 PM on May 4, 2003


If you ask me, they deserved it. International diplomacy is too important for idiots to mess up with strikes.

Word G, its not like they wanted to, you know, be paid or anything, and besides, like the stomachs of the UN representatives are more important than the stomachs of these idiot's kids, I mean for real yo.
posted by cohappy at 12:46 PM on May 4, 2003


It also looks cool, in a '60s Hitchcock movie way.

Makes sense, considering that scene in North By Northwest set in the delegate's lounge...
posted by Vidiot at 1:43 PM on May 4, 2003


(film geek note: It wasn't actually shot at the UN -- Hitchcock & Co. used hidden-camera footage as aids in building a set that exactly duplicated the UN rooms.)
posted by Vidiot at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2003


Delmoi, what the hell are you talking about?

And the service was no better for anyone else at the U.N. But as tensions grew and stomachs growled, a high-ranking U.N. official boldly ordered that all the cafeterias open their doors for business even without staff. The restaurants had been locked shut by security until about 1:00 pm when the doors flung open.

When you say "If I own a restaurant. And I decide to let people come in and take whatever they want, there is absolutely no way it can be called "looting". Even if I subcontract out the actual running of the place. " you misunderstand the ownership status of the place. The UN leases space to Aramark who owns the restaurant. If, however, you believe that any landlord can steal any tenant's stuff, you're consistent, although wrong.

This is a simple case of the UN saying "we want it, we will make it so." Which amounts to theft.
posted by swerdloff at 1:52 PM on May 4, 2003


zygoticmynci: Everything you say is true. But you can't deny that an event like this further tarnishes an already weakening image.

I don't necessarily see the UN as weakened, although if it has been weakened it was by the actions of certain member states rather than any fundamental failing as an organisation. Other opinions are available, of course!

You're quite right, it will tarnish the image of the UN in the eyes of many who read about it, but I really don't think it should. I'm just pointing out that in truth all this is much more a reflection on human nature (looky here - free stuff!!) than on the UN and its employees.
posted by zygoticmynci at 2:36 PM on May 4, 2003


But here's my pertinent question: is it rude to refer to the Secretary General by just "Kofi"? Would it be better to refer to him as "Annan" -- or is "Kofi" his culturally-dictated surname?

I agree. I also found it slight unpleasant to refer to Mr. Hussien as simply 'Saddam'. Mr. Annan, Mr. Powell, Mr. Bush, Mr. Hussien, Ms. Rice, Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Putin, ect.

Oh my, that was a tangent.

Anyway, though I don't buy the whole 'look at the U.N. and how barbaric they are' mentality, I don't worship them. They can do some pretty bad things. I had to do without lunch today at work because I had. . . work. Unfortunate. I hadn't eaten in a whole 18 hours. Doesn't give me permission to sack the Subway downstairs. On a personal (not an organizational) issue, I would take an extreme offense at any thievery of anything by anyone. World Peace or not, I don't find it acceptable.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:29 PM on May 4, 2003


Not to get on my high horse or anything; I'm a pretty screwed-up guy.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:31 PM on May 4, 2003


"...the UN support contingent is out in full force in this thread, and is defending criminal mob behaviour for some mysterious reason."

They have cameras.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:42 PM on May 4, 2003


Yes, defend them. Please (feh!)
posted by Pressed Rat at 3:53 PM on May 4, 2003


I'm not terribly exercised over the "Kofi" mention in the story. I see it as a reporter trying their hand at wordplay -- "no coffee for Kofi." It's not like Time habitually refers to the S-G by his first name...I doubt it's in their stylesheet.

I'm not quite sure about the rationale for why Saddam Hussein is hardly ever referred to as just "Hussein" or "Mr. Hussein" and why it's "Saddam" instead. Any Arabic-speakers or other knowledgeable people want to pipe up?
posted by Vidiot at 10:37 PM on May 4, 2003


Vidiot: regarding "Saddam", the first thing to keep in mind is that referring to people by their last name is a formal Western convention. (Compare with Russia, where one is always referred to by one's first name and the patronymic, e.g. Russians talking about their president do not often say "Putin", they say "Vladimir Vladimirovich".) The second is that Arabs have fewer first, last or other names to choose from. Mostly, Arabs have long formal names that describe them in a social context, which include given names, family names, tribal names, and settlement names, such as Yasser Arafat, and for daily purposes often go by various patronymics and honorifics such as, well, Yasser Arafat, or Abu Amar. Finally, the Iraqis themselves refer to him as Saddam, so there isn't some sort of insidious Washington-driven agenda in the choice. (Some thought so, back when confusion with King Hussein, a nominal ally, was the supposed motive; and others have made much of the way Bush 41 pronounced it suh-DAMN.)

Returning to the topic, I continue to agree more or less with delmoi. Aramark's inventory was clearly "looted" here, but with the sanction of a top UN official. To return even to normal food serving conditions, let alone an ongoing business relationship, the UN is now going to be in the position of compensating Aramark for lost inventory; and given the explicit permission, it's unlikely that there is any insurance for this payment. That means that the US taxpayer pays for 22% of the appropriated merchandise and furnishings.

This isn't necessarily an indictment of the UN system as a whole but it does serve to illustrate certain endemic problems such as a rentier attitude toward money.
posted by dhartung at 11:49 PM on May 4, 2003


Thanks, dhartung. I didn't think there was any sort of agenda there -- just didn't know why it was done that way. (In my experience, news organizations typically think this stuff through while making stylebook decisions.)
posted by Vidiot at 11:57 PM on May 4, 2003


I am surprised to see that America is no longer in as significant arrears with regard to its UN dues as once it was.

Shocked, actually. But pleasantly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:39 AM on May 5, 2003


Did anyone else call this story bullshiat?

- The wording is so overtly inflammatory as to itself make the story suspect. We're supposed to believe that a thousand or so individuals looted the restaurants, stole the silverware, gorged on everything they can find, and became drunk?
- Exactly which "high-ranking U.N. official" made the proclamation? Why is it that there isn't a single source for any of these quotes mentioned in the article?
- Which "Food Workers Union" would that be? I would suspect that Stogel refers to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), but it's a bit hard to tell. At best, this is sloppy reporting; at worst, it's crap.
- Kofi Annan is often referred to as "Kofi" in the story, as an obvious attempt to both belittle and humanize him.
- The whole bit ending with "...one U.S. diplomat responded: "I stopped counting the bottles." He then excused himself and headed towards the men's room." sounds so damn fake - and, remember, he allegedly quoted a United States diplomat...
- No one else has reported on this story. Neither Aramark, RA, nor the UFCW have any information about this supposed "looting" anywhere on their web sites. Nor is there any information on the United Nations web site. Nor is there anything else being reported (or even found under Google) anywhere else that I can find. In other words, there's no way to corroborate this story, and all of the main players seem to have no information about this (even though it's 2 days later...)
posted by FormlessOne at 8:00 AM on May 5, 2003


Daily News Article which appears to be mainly a trot of the Time article. also showing up on NewsMax and Infoshop. Still waiting for a credible/balanced/non-laughable source.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:10 AM on May 5, 2003


True, the article is somewhat sensational and lacks details; still, I really saw some of the posts on this thread as being rather hypocritical -- normally, most of you are all about strikes and the little man, now all of a sudden they're not important. Food service workers in the UN shouldn't be allowed to strike? Why? What is so important about UN employees having to go down the street for lunch, compared to other unionized professions like, say, teaching...
posted by dagnyscott at 6:22 PM on May 5, 2003


dagnyscott, perhaps you mistook the comments of one to be a theme in this thread? I scanned through this thread again and saw only a single person who dissed the food service workers and their strike; in fact, several people boxed his/her ears for these comments too.

If anyone is disrespectful to the food workers it is the author of this tabloid crappy piece of junk that derails any story about the abuses the workers have suffered and the reasons they chose to walk off the job in favor of a little UN bashing. Pandering to the nationalistic xenophobia is apparently much more popular today than the plight of the little guy. What responsible journalism!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:20 PM on May 5, 2003


Just for kicks, yesterday I sent the TIME link to a friend who works as an administrator with the UN in NY. He phoned me back briefly. To describe his reaction as outraged would be something of an understatement - he told me that the article was utter rubbish, as a skeleton crew of (probably deeply stressed!) caterers remained in place to serve meals on a work-to-rule. As a result, some checkouts were staffed, but tables etc. weren't cleared and the most items on the menus were unavailable. As far as he knew, there was a certain level of chaos in the larger cafeterias due to endless queues for food and checkouts, and his cafeteria looked like a battle zone because it wasn't being bussed, not because anybody was pillaging the place.

Suffice to say, he was pretty pissed-off by the article, but did mention, predictably, that he was "starting to get used to this kind of shit" from certain media sources. Given the number of staff in the place, I suspect it wouldn't be too hard for people to find out the truth underlying the piece, if they could drag themselves away from opportunistic grandstanding for a moment.
posted by Doozer at 3:18 AM on May 6, 2003


Nice one, Doozer.

Disgusting. Certain MeFites show their gullibility by believing a media beat-up, swallowing everything that's written down. I will remember this the next time anybody attacks the UN as a solution to world problems.
posted by rory at 8:00 AM on May 6, 2003


And now The Post, two days late and with even less detail. Has anybody reputable covered this thing yet?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:04 AM on May 6, 2003


Interesting indeed, Doozer. Thanks for that.

This is one I would love to see Matt place on the sidebar, as a bit of a balance to our more shining moments.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:44 PM on May 6, 2003


« Older In the first of two stories from Scotland's Scotla...  |  Iraqi teen shares her diary of... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments