Truthout: In Oakland, Airport Workers Cite Unfair Practices

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.

Non-Union Airport Workers to STRIKE!

Strike Build-Up Actions at Oakland Airport Terminal 2:
Friday, 7/5: 11:30 am -1:30 pm.
Sunday, 7/14: 7 am, noon, 5 pm.

It’s going to be a hot summer: as East Bay public workers struggle for justice on the job, non-union workers at Oakland Airport fast food restaurants are preparing to strike!

“My bosses cut my hours to punish me for trying to form a union. They fired my co-worker for organizing, and they still haven’t brought her back to work. I’m tired of waiting for justice – I’m ready to fight!” said Oakland Airport Subway cashier Hayat Selmani.

A year ago, airport fast food workers launched a public campaign for better jobs – including a fair process to decide whether to form a union. Some workers have faced serious retaliation: the National Labor Relations Board just charged two OAK restaurants with breaking labor laws and firing workers who spoke out. And the Port of Oakland found that these same employers violated the living wage and fired workers who complained about it. But so far, the employers haven’t faced real consequences.

Now the workers are taking action to protest their bosses’ unfair labor practices. At Thursday’s Port Commission meeting, workers announced a strike deadline of July 11th. While the strike date itself was not announced, workers are calling for a picket on Friday, July 5th, and a full day of action on Sunday, July 14th.

It takes a lot of courage for non-union, low-wage workers to go on strike – especially when their co-workers have been fired for organizing. The workers are ready, but they need your support! Please join us on the 5th and 14th and support these courageous worker leaders!

CSU-East Bay Workers Join 2850!!

Dining workers at California State University, East Bay are now members of UNITE HERE Local 2850! After an exciting spring of organizing, speaking out and building campus support, the workers won union recognition on June 16th.

“I can’t hide the excitement – I feel like I’m starting a whole new job,” said six-year CSU-EB worker and organizing committee member Tatiana Lam. “I was waiting for this for so long. Now I feel like our voices will heard.”

“The best part of all this was seeing the workers take charge,” said Veronica Garcia, a fourth-year student at CSU-EB. “It was so inspiring to see them stand up for themselves, and see all the students stand behind them.”

The workers, employees of Aramark, cook and serve food for CSU-EB’s 13,000 students. They join the dining workers at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, who organized into UNITE HERE 2850 earlier this spring, as well as hundreds of Aramark workers at the Oakland Coliseum and local cafeterias.

Castlewood Victory Party!!!

Monday, April 29, 6 – 9 pm


Carpenters Local 713 Union Hall

1050 Mattox Road, Hayward

Sisters and Brothers,

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: a Castlewood VICTORY party!!!

As a way of thanking you for your endless support, donations, solidarity, and so much more we are holding an informal dinner party to celebrate the new contract for the workers at Castlewood Country Club.

For those of you who need a refresher on the history of the campaign, check out our website or watch this video.

Over the course of 3 years we’ve amassed countless stories, experiences, memories, and photos fighting the 1%. We hope this evening will be a reminder to the power of workers and communities standing together for justice—even against all odds.

Admission is FREE but we will be passing the hat to collect donations.

You MUST RSVP BELOW so we can have tamales for everyone!

For questions contact Sarah (510-502-5344)

In Solidarity,

UNITE HERE! Local 2850


Photo credit: David Bacon

For three years, we’ve been looking forward to the day we could make this announcement:

Castlewood workers have won their struggle for justice!

On February 13, the workers approved a great new contract that provides job security, affordable family health care, raises, and a substantial signing bonus.

“So many people told us that dishwashers and waitresses couldn’t win against a luxury golf club,” said server Jeanette Cardenas. “But we’ve learned that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you stay strong and you’re on the side of justice.”

Workers and their supporters fought bravely throughout a lockout that lasted longer than the siege of Leningrad. The workers returned to their jobs in October 2012 after a National Labor Relations Board judge found the lockout illegal, but contract negotiations continued through the winter.

Under the new contract, workers will pay $225 per month for family health care, the same amount the union proposed before the lockout began. The workers’ payment will go down to $150 in the last year of the contract. The deal also includes raises, strong seniority rights and protections against subcontracting – which Castlewood proposed eliminating during the lockout – and a signing bonus.

With the contract resolved, UNITE HERE Local 2850 has called off its boycott of Castlewood and is urging clients who canceled their events during the labor dispute to return.

“This isn’t just our victory,” said janitor Francisca Carranza. “So many people in the community, political leaders, pastors and other workers marched with us. We are so thankful to all of you – we never could have won this fight alone. Now we hope workers everywhere see this and understand that you don’t have to give up everything you’ve worked for. You can stand up for your family and win.”

Stay tuned for details on the Castlewood campaign celebration!
For more information, contact Sarah Norr at 510-502-5344 or [email protected].

¡Si se pudo!!

UNITE HERE Local 2850


Castlewood Country Club food service workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2850, enjoyed stable jobs with free family health care for many years. In the fall of 2009, Castlewood proposed raising workers’ share of family health care costs to $739 a month – over 40% of the average worker’s wage.

The workers rejected the proposal, but offered to pay $225 per month for family health care and to continue negotiating amicably. Instead, Castlewood locked them out on February 25, 2010. Castlewood then urged its employees to decertify their union, but the workers voted 41-17 to remain represented by the union.

Six months into the lockout, Castlewood made new proposals that were substantially worse than its original offer. The proposals would have stripped away seniority and job security protections, allowed unlimited subcontracting of workers’ jobs, made it optional for workers to pay union dues, and increased the cost of family health care even further. The union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

Throughout the lockout, workers maintained daily pickets in front of Castlewood’s golf course, and coordinated dozens of larger actions. They were joined by political leaders, local clergy, and Pleasanton neighbors. They also organized a successful boycott of the Club and a high-profile civil disobedience action. The story – of low-wage workers fighting back against the illegal pressure tactics of a high-end golf club – drew national attention.

On August 17, 2012, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson found that Castlewood had maintained an unlawful lockout for the previous two years. Anderson found that Castlewood had bargained in bad faith and that its bargaining proposals were motivated by animus toward the union.

On October 16, 2012, Castlewood ended the lockout. 46 of the 61 locked out workers returned to their jobs. Castlewood and the union continued to bargain for a new contract.

On February 13, 2013, the workers voted to ratify a new three-year contract. Under the deal, workers will pay $225 per month for family health care – the same amount the union proposed at the beginning of the lockout. Workers’ contribution will decrease to $150 per month in the last year of the contract. The contract also includes raises, strong seniority language and protections against subcontracting, and a signing bonus.

With the lockout over and the contract resolved, UNITE HERE Local 2850 and Castlewood workers ended their boycott of the Club and urged clients to return. They also asked the NLRB to drop its prosecution of Castlewood.

Merry Christmas: Airport Strike on Hold

Strike at Oakland Airport on Hold as Progress Made in Food and Retail Contract Negotiations

UNITE HERE Local 2850, the union that represents two hundred fast food and retail employees of HMS Host at the Oakland International Airport, has put holiday season strike plans on hold as progress is made in contract negotiations. HMS Host operates food and retail concessions at Oakland Airport under various brand names, including Starbucks, Chili’s, Max’s Eatz and California Pizza Kitchen.

“My coworkers and I are hopeful that we can come to an agreement without the need for a strike but we remain united and ready to strike for a fair contract if needed. For me, maintaining affordable family medical for my family and especially my newborn daughter is worth fighting for,” said Michael Romulo, a cook at California Pizza Kitchen at the Oakland Airport, operated by HMS Host.

On November 14, 2012, UNITE HERE Local 2850 members working at the Oakland Airport took a strike authorization vote. The results were conclusive and overwhelming, demonstrating the workers’ commitment to fight for a fair contract. By a unanimous tally of 134 – 0, Oakland Airport food and retail workers voted to authorize a strike if necessary.

The Union is cautiously optimistic about the progress that has been made in negotiations over the HMS Host workers’ new contract, but important issues remain unresolved, including the cost of health care. While the UNITE HERE Local 2850 members at the airport have decided not to strike for the time being, workers remain ready to do so if necessary.

For More Information contact: Lian Alan at 510-219-6491 or Wei-Ling Huber at 510-219-6434.