Oakland Measure Z passed!

We are so proud and excited that Oakland voters passed Measure Z, 75% to 25%. Measure Z will protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault and threats on the job, establish a living wage and humane workload limits, and improve labor standards enforcement for ALL workers in Oakland. Thank you to our partners in this campaign, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, and to all or supporters.

Congratulations also to UNITE HERE Local 11 and Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy for passing Measure WW in Long Beach!

Check out our very own Irma Perez and Wei-Ling Huber in this Telemundo story!

Oakland Measure Z could raise minimum wage, bring harassment protections to hotel workers

Listen to our very own Blanca Smith explain why every Oakland voter should vote yes on Measure Z. And she’s walking the picket line at the Oakland Marriott City Center while she’s at it!

Hotel employee Blanca Smith joins the picket line outside the Oakland Marriott.

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.

Read the full article.

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.

Bay Guardian: Country Club workers plan picket after step towards victory

Workers at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, represented by UNITE HERE Local 2850, received a favorable decision from Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson of the National Labor Relations Board on Monday. He found that the club owes all 61 union workers two years of back pay– and their jobs back.

“For the workers it feels like a relief to be believed in some way,” said Local 2850 organizer Sarah Norr. “The workers have been saying for two years that Castlewood was not really trying to reach a compromise.”

The food service workers and janitors of Local 2850 at Castlewood haven’t worked in two years. Instead, they picket the club and march. But they’re not on strike– they would love to go back to work. They’re on lockout.

In Feb. 2010, the club tried to hike up their health care costs, significantly increase the hours per week that would be considered full-time, and cut pay. After heated negotiations, the club refused to allow workers to return to their jobs and hired non-union replacements. Read the full article.