Oakland Airport Restaurant Workers Declare Victory!

After a two-year struggle, nearly 200 restaurant workers at the Oakland Airport are celebrating their new union contract – which provides for raises, affordable family health care, and job security.

The workers struck in August 2013 to protest unfair labor practices by their employer, Host International, which included regressive proposals to freeze wages and slash benefits.

“Host wanted to turn our jobs into McDonald’s jobs that would leave our families in poverty. But we stuck together and fought back and won a great contract. Now I can take good care of my kids, and they can be proud knowing their mom stood up for them,” said concessions worker Nancy Moncada.

“We want to thank all our fellow Port workers, other unions, and friends in the community who stood with us for the past two years – we could not have won this victory without you.” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan dropped by the workers’ victory celebration on Tuesday. “Oakland should be a city where working-class families can survive and thrive – especially those working at the Port of Oakland. The airport food service workers have fought long and hard to make that vision a reality, and I congratulate them on their victory,” said Quan.

Under the new contract, non-tipped workers will receive 40-cent raises each year. An excellent health care plan will be available to workers for $10 a month for single coverage or $25 for full family coverage. Workers will also receive pension benefits, paid sick days, free meals, and one to four weeks of vacation per year.

The workers at Host are represented by UNITE HERE Local 2850; their previous contract expired in July 2012. Over the past two years, the workers have staged numerous protests and a one-day strike in their efforts to secure a fair contract.

“I hope this is an inspiration to all the people in Oakland and all the fast food workers out there who are struggling for a living wage. If you keep on fighting, you can win!” said Host worker Hong Mei Li.

Employees at non-union restaurants in the Oakland Airport also staged protests in 2012 and 2013, highlighting violations of the Port’s living wage policy. Earlier this year, the Port Commission adopted a policy that all new airport food and retail operators must sign labor peace agreements. Labor peace agreements may include guarantees of a fair process for workers to decide whether they wish join a union, free from employer interference or retaliation.

“It’s been a long fight, but the future is brighter for Oakland workers because of it,” said Local 2850 president Wei-Ling Huber. “The airport workers can teach us all what it takes to win good jobs for working-class families in Oakland.”

Press-Democrat: Graton casino workers vote to join union

Employees with the Graton Resort & Casino have voted to unionize, a move that adds the Rohnert Park tribal gaming destination to the widening trend of union representation of casino workers nationwide.

The vote by Graton casino employees sets in motion collective bargaining for a new contract with the casino, which opened in November. Union officials said they will look to protect benefits currently offered to casino employees, including 100 percent employer paid health care to all employees who work more than 20 hours a week.

“There is no preset list of demands,” said Sarah Norr, a researcher with Unite Here Local 2850, which will represent 600 casino janitors, cooks, waiters and gaming workers. “Definitely solidifying existing benefits is important to our workers.”

More than 70 percent of affected employees decided to join the union in an election that began last month. The other 30 percent did not participate in the process. Union organizers announced the results of the election Tuesday.

The move comes as union membership is declining nationwide but growing among casino workers. Unite Here represents 100,000 workers at gambling sites in the United States and Canada. About half of casino workers are unionized in California and nationally, according to Unite Here.

Under an agreement between Unite Here and the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, which owns the casino, workers were allowed to choose whether to become union members without interference from the employer. Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris, who pressed for the deal to allow unionization, said he was pleased workers at the casino, one of Sonoma County’s largest service employers, would have their benefits contractually ensured.

“I’m so happy that people will have good jobs with us for as long as we’re around,” he said. “The selling point is not that people get better benefits, but that they get to keep them.”

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Press-Democrat: Graton casino workers voting on union

Larry Smith gave a cheer as he signed his union card Tuesday in a conference room at the Graton Resort and Casino.

Smith, who has worked as a porter in the maintenance department since the casino opened just outside of Rohnert Park in November, said unionizing will result in labor practices that are more equitable.

“We want to speak with one voice,” he said. “A lot of people are scared to take sick days. We don’t want to feel scared.”

About 600 gambling, maintenance and food and beverage workers at the new casino, one of Sonoma County’s largest service employers, are deciding this week whether to join a union.

Representatives from Unite Here, which represents 100,000 workers at gambling sites in the U.S. and Canada, explained the benefits of the union to off-duty employees Tuesday.

“We help to protect their jobs,” said Wei-Ling Huber, president of Unite Here Local 2850 of Oakland. “You want to have transparency, fair rules, security for the long term. When given the choice, people overwhelmingly choose to be represented.”

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The Town Hella Needs a Raise!!

On March 27, hundreds of East Bay hotel, restaurant and stadium workers – and allies from the community – took it to the streets of downtown Oakland! Workers called for fair contracts, a higher minimum wage and good jobs that pay what their families need to survive and thrive in the Bay Area in 2014!

“I work at the Oakland Airport, and we’re in a hard fight to keep our families out of poverty, but we’re not fighting alone. We’ve been joining up with Walmart workers, fast food workers, and everyone else who is struggling to pay their rent in the Bay Area. Now we’re going out on the streets in downtown Oakland to show the whole city how strong we are when we’re together!” said Nancy Moncada, retail clerk at the Oakland Airport.

“I believe that it is really important for all of us to come together on March 27th, because when my co-workers from the Coliseum unite with hotel and airport workers we have real strength. We did this five years ago, and we won good contracts, now is the time to make this action even bigger,” said Johnny Stake, a longtime Oakland resident and Coliseum stand worker.

Airport Strike Postponed! Action 12/21 11:30-1:30!

Due to encouraging progress in settlement talks, UNITE HERE Local 2850’s Unfair Labor Practice strike at the Oakland Airport is being postponed. There is no strike tomorrow. There will be a picket and holiday-themed action at Terminal 2 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Oakland Airport Food and Retail Workers Plan Strike During Holidays

Mercury News, 11/14/13 – Food and retail workers at the Oakland International Airport said Thursday that they plan to strike at some point during the holiday season to protest what they say are unfair labor practices, including low wages.

Sarah Norr, a spokeswomman for Unite Here Local 2850, which represents about 200 employees at the airport, said the date and length of a strike have not yet been set but workers plan to walk out at some point between Thanksgiving week and the end of the year.

Food and retail workers previously staged a one-day strike at the airport on Aug. 30.

The workers are employed by HMSHost, a Maryland-based company that won a 12-year contract for services at the airport, which is run by the Port of Oakland, in 2006. HMSHost runs food concessions at more than 100 airports around the world, according to the company’s website.

The employees have been working without a contract since July 2012.

Norr said veteran workers at the airport only earn $12 to $13 an hour and new employees only make $9.50 to $9.75 an hour.

She alleged that HMSHost is engaging in “regressive bargaining” by proposing reducing vacation and sick days, eliminating pensions and removing workers from the union’s affordable health insurance plan.

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