Hayat Selmani showed up at the Oakland Airport at 7 AM Sunday. But she didn’t have on her uniform from the Subway sandwich concession. She wore street clothes. And instead of going to work, she picked up a sign and went on strike.
During the next half hour, several dozen other food concession workers joined her. A few wore their work uniforms, but most put on T-shirts with the logo of their union, Unite Here. Selmani, a slim young woman and a little shy, explained in a soft voice with a slight South Asian accent that although supporting the union was scary at first, it wasn’t any longer.
“I’m on strike to stand up for my rights and to show my boss that I’m not scared, ” she said. “I’m standing up to bring my coworkers back and to make them give me my hours back.”
A year ago, organizers from Local 2850 of Unite Here began talking with Selmani and other workers at the Subway and Jamba Juice concessions. The union already had a contract with the parent concessionaire at the airport, HMS Host, that covered a number of concessions. But some franchises, particularly those two, were very opposed.
Selmani’s coworker, Hakima Arhab, a Berber immigrant from Algeria, was interested in what the union had to say. “They were making us work like slaves,” she said. “I used to work 12 hours a day with just one ten-minute break and 20 minutes for lunch.” Read the full article.