Strike Wave Rocks Chicago, Marriott Hotels--Wins Healthcare for the Workers!
-By Dylan Borne
This past September was no business as usual for Chicago’s downtown hotels. Dining ta- bles weren’t served, food wasn’t cooked, rooms weren’t cleaned.
Thousands of hotel workers walked out, picketing 26 different hotels in hospitality union UNITE HERE’s first citywide hotel strike. The workers were demanding year-round health-care coverage that doesn’t get cut off during the slow season.
As Q. Rivers, a house attendant at the Hilton, said: “Hotels may slow down in the winter- time, but I still need my diabetes medication when I’m laid off... They work us like dogs when it’s busy and then kick us to the curb in the winter.”
And when they’re cleaning a full room in 30 minutes, workers have no shortage of rotator cuff injuries or hip problems that they need treatment for.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s business district hotels have raked in $2 billion off the backs of these workers in 2017 alone. These same hotels are claiming that slow business is why they can’t afford to cover their workers’ basic healthcare needs.
Chicago is not alone. The Marriott—the world’s richest hotel company, owned by two men who each have a $1.2 billion net worth—has gotten hit in eight major US tourism destination.
7,700 UNITE HERE Marriott workers have gone on strike in Maui, Honolulu, Boston, Detroit, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose.
The demands vary by city, but they’re unified under the slogan “One job should be enough!” To date, it’s the largest multi-city hotel strike in US history.
And with struggle comes victory. 15 of Chicago’s hotels so far have settled on new union contracts, guaranteeing year-round healthcare for 3,500 workers. But the struggle continues, and many of these negotiations remain ongoing. The Hos- pitality Workers Alliance stands in solidarity from New Orleans!
The Importance of Solidarity and Organizing in the Workplace
-By Jade Dimond
We all know that working in the hospitality industry is demanding, tiring and over all mostly a shit show. It has been embedded into our minds that the little bit of money we do receive is what we deserve. It has been embedded into our minds that sexual harassment and abuse is “just the way it is.” It has been embedded into our minds that racial harassment and abuse is “the way of the industry.” This is NOT the case, this is NOT just the industry. It is so important and imperative that we create solidarity with our co-workers. Creating this solidarity will allow a space to watch each others’ backs when these situations come to play.
How can you create solidarity in the workplace? Speak to your coworkers and ask them how their day has been. Listen to them and share your experiences with each other. Building a solid base of trust with one another is a good way to start. We all know that our managers do everything they can to divide the front and back of the house. Break that chain of command and speak up for your coworker when they are being harassed and or abused. Legally you are allowed to document and record without consent of other members in the party, as long as you’re a participant in the conversation. Go out at the end of the night with your coworkers and talk about issues in the workplace. I say to do this outside of your workplace, so that managers and bosses cannot overhear and try and step in. They will try and change your mind or your coworker’s mind on situations that happened in the workplace.
They know that “United we bargain, Divided we beg” so they will do everything in their power to keep us down. Remember the power is in the people and WE run these businesses, without us our bosses have nothing.
Once you have built a common ground of respect and trust with one another, you will see how your bosses will pick up on this and continue to try and pit you against each other. It is important to see and understand these control tactics, not allowing them to get the upper hand. Remember your manager is NOT your “friend.” They are your boss and it is their job to do everything they can to keep you down, divided and believing you are replaceable and that you only deserve the treatment and respect they decide to give you. This is NOT the case, we are NOT slaves, we are humans that deserve respect just like everyone else. No matter what position we are in.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS:
Can your boss charge you for making a mistake at work?
-By Dylan Borne
It’s super common in the hospitality industry for workers to make mistakes, like breaking a plate or charging a table wrong. It’s normal, people make mistakes—and it doesn’t help that workers are barely holding their eyelids open after all the shifts they have to take to pay rent.
But if you make that kind of mistake, can bosses charge you for it?
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, any deductions from your wage for something that benefits the company can’t put you below minimum wage, or exceed the value of what you’re paying for. So, according to federal law, if you break a bottle of liquor by accident and owe $40, but only made $60 in your 8-hour shift, you can’t be charged because that would set you below the minimum wage ($7.25/hr). This applies the same way for tipped workers, since your tips are supposed to be adding up to at least minimum wage.
The one law on the books in Louisiana concerning pay deductions for mistakes says that your employer can only charge you if you damaged property on purpose, or if you damaged it “negligently.”
Loyola University New Orleans law professor Bill Quigley explains “negligence” like this: “Negligence means the person knew or should have known that the problem might occur if they acted this way.”
A concrete example: if you drop a bottle because it’s busy, that’s just an accident, but if you do that regularly because, say, you always toss it around and play with it when your boss has already told you not to, that can be made out to be “negligence.”
But, as most hospitality workers know, many of us make an occasional mistake that’s totally just an accident, not negligence. Bosses try to charge us anyway, but this is completely illegal under Louisiana law.
However, remember, even “negligent” mistakes can’t bring you below the minimum wage by federal law.
But just as important of a question is: should your boss be able to charge you? There are about 100,000 hospitality workers in this city, and the $7.4 billion hospitality economy couldn’t run without us. Many hospitality workers go weeks without a day off, and clopenings/doubles make it impossible to keep a healthy sleep schedule.
Workers deserve some slack, and so much more: guaranteed healthcare, a livable wage, a Work Week Ordinance, and complete and well-enforced protection from wage deductions. Laws don’t reflect what we deserve—remember, Jim Crow was legal, slavery was legal. To get what’s right, we have to build a movement that looks beyond the weak laws that exist and fight to win the fair laws that should.
-By Ryan Jones
Three years ago I was a full-worker at Burger King, like many others my experience was not good. I was working five days a week, making the federal minimum wage, which is 7.25 an hour. Working full-time I was making $700 a month, which is not a livable wage. Not only was I supporting myself, but also my family. I didn’t receive breaks, and was required to fill multiple positions in the workplace. Like many workplaces Burger King kept minimum staff on, expecting workers to take on the workloads of multiple people. Cutting back on costs, at the expense of us workers. The managers would often be aggressive towards workers, yelling at us, snatching our phones away (taking our personal property). They would often yell at us about not “doing our jobs” while we were busting our asses!
They electronically deposited our checks, so we didn’t get our check stubs in person. You could access them online, but without smartphones or computers it can be very difficult to check and make sure your pay & hours are done right. We in the industry know it’s very common for bosses to shave a couple hours off workers checks. They often do this is ways that aren’t noticeable, leaving many workers experiencing wage theft without even realizing it. This is why it’s very important that we have access to our pay stubs.
I feel we should get our pay stubs in person, so we can better hold our bosses accountable. I also feel like everybody should get paid breaks, and a free shift meal. All workers should get a living wage, which at the minimum should be $15 dollars an hour. We all should have a union, so we have the power to demand the dignity and respect we deserve in the workplace. We as workers must make our voices heard, and demand the bosses start listening to what we have to say. We need to get organized as working people, our bosses aren’t going to give us our rights, we must demand them, we gotta shut shit down.
Long hours and low wages
That’s just the industry?
Slaps on my ass, I am just supposed to take that?
No sleep but these doubles are on repeat
That’s just the industry!
Wake up with the flu, half dead
Told if I don’t show up to work today I won’t be fed
It’s 5 am before my morning shift
just got confirmation from that stick
I am pregnant, I AM PREGNANT
Now I have to think of all the ways I am going to hide this
HIDE THIS? How long can I go without me showing?
How long can I go without them knowing?
Counting down the days till they fire me
But that’s just the industry?
Solidarity with the Seafood Workers Alliance!
-By Charlotte Dillon
Early last month, members of the Hospitality Workers’ Alliance were invited to join the Seafood Workers Alliance at their monthly meeting in Houma, Louisiana. The seafood industry brings in $2 billion a year, making it one of the largest industries in the state of Louisiana. The Seafood Workers Alliance, like the NOHWA, is an organization of workers fighting for their long overdue rights. Seafood workers are the ones who harvest and package the seafood that we serve to customers and tourists at hotels and restaurants every day in New Orleans. Workers shared the harsh circumstances they work under in seafood packing plants, and the oppressive companies that have made organizing for better conditions a high risk to take. Nevertheless, our fellow workers are not letting attacks on them stop them from fighting for their rights! We, as workers in the tourism industry, recognize that our struggle is tied to the struggle of the seafood workers.
¡Solidaridad con la Alianza de Trabajadorxs de Marisco y Pescado!
-Por Charlotte Dillon
El mes pasado, miembros del Comité de trabajadorxs de hospitalidad fue invitado a participar en la reunión mensual de la Alianza de trabajadorxs de mariscos y pescado en Houma, Louisiana. La industria de mariscos y pescado produce $2 billones por año, lo que lo hace una de las industrias más grandes del estado de Louisiana. La Alianza de trabajadorxs de mariscos y pescado, como el NOHWA, es una organización de trabajadorxs organizando por los derechos que merecen. Lxs trabajadorxs de marisco y pescado son los que pescan y empaquetan los mariscos y pescados que nosotros servimos en nuestros restaurantes y hoteles todos los días en la ciudad de Nueva Orleans. Trabajadorxs compartieron las circunstancias difíciles en las plantas de mariscos y las compañías opresivas que intentan impedir la organización de trabajadorxs. Sin embargo, ¡nuestrxs compañerxs no han deja- do que los ataques contra ellxs les impidan luchar por sus derechos! Nosotrxs, como trabajadorxs en la industria del turismo, sabemos que nuestra lucha está conectada a la lucha de lxs trabajadorxs de marisco y pescado.
El decreto de la semana de trabajo:
¡Únase a la lucha para días pagados de enfermedad y leyes de horario!
-Por Marie Torres
Una de los las luchas más emocionantes del Alianza de trabajadores de hospitalidad de New Orleans es la lucha para aprobar el decreto de la semana de trabajo. Es un decreto simple que daría derechos laborales básicos de horarios y 12 días pagados de enfermedad. Este decreto, en varias formas, ha sido aprobado en varias ciudades en los EEUU como San Jose, San Francisco, Emeryville, Seattle, NYC, y DC. Este año, Austin, Texas se volvió la primera ciudad en el Sur que aprobó días pagados de enfermedad para lxs trabajadores. Como todos que trabajan en la in- dustria de hospitalidad saben, uno de los prob- lemas más graves que enfrentamos son nuestros horarios abusivos e inconsistentes. No tenemos días pagados de enfermedad, ni la habilidad de llamar a nuestro trabajo para tomar el día libre cuando estamos enfermos sin miedo de ser despedido. Trabajadoras embarazadas y madres nuevas no tienen seguridad de trabajo durante su permiso de maternidad, y a veces son empujadas fuera del horario cuando llegan a las etapas tardes de su embarazo. Miles de nosotrxs no recibimos nuestros horarios hasta la noche antes o el día de trabajo, y los horarios son diferentes de semana a semana. Esto causa problemas graves cuando uno tiene que planear visitas al doctor, cuidado de niñxs, e impide a los padres de estar involucrados en la educación de sus hijxs (conferencias entre padres y maestrxs, eventos de la escuela, etc). Finalmente, la falta de días aprobados para ausencia por enfermedad en la industria deja que miles de personas vayan al trabajo enfermxs. Especialmente debido a la epidemia de gripe de influenza del año pasado (una de las temporadas más graves), es increíblemente inseguro y no sanitario que lxs trabajadores de hospitalidad esten sirviendo y cocinando comida con turistas mientras que esten enfermxs.
Porque los gerentes y jefes normalmente están encargados de los horarios de lxs traajadores, otro problema grave en la industria es que usan los horarios como una herramienta para explotar a lxs trabajadores. Si un gerente no le gusta un trabajador, ellos pueden programar el trabajo del trabajador durante días más lentos, o cambiar su horario de días una semana a noches la próxima semana solo para empujar al trabajador que renuncie. Si un trabajador renuncia la orden de trabajar una doble, el horario del trabajador la próxima semana puede servir como castigo. Esto también sirve como herramienta de acoso sexual, y los jefes han usado el horario del trabajador como castigo si el trabajador no hace lo que el jefe quiere. Lxs favoritxs del jefe siempre son evidentes: lxs favoritxs siempre tienen los mejores horarios, y esto sirve para dividir a lxs trabajadores más.
Este decreto, cuando sea aprobado, pondrá el poder del horario en las manos del trabajador: !Ya no será una herramienta de explotación del jefe!
Este decreto va servir como protección para la comunidad general de New Orleans. Hasta ahora, el NOHWA ha colectado más de 3,000 firmas de lxs trabajadores quienes apoyan al decre- to. Sin embargo, sabemos que necesitamos apoyo de la comunidad y el poder colectivo de la gente para poner presión sobre los políticos para aprobar legislación que ayuda a lxs trabajadores. Hasta ahora, tenemos apoyo de varias organizaciones de la comunidad, iglesias, más de 30 doctores, maestros en la ciudad, y abogados locales como Bill Quigley de la clínica de ley de Loyola.
Hospitality Workers Alliance Demands The Immediate Expansion of
East Owl Bus Line
-By Peyton Gill
Are you a hospitality worker? Do you use public transit to get to and from work?
If you answer yes to both these questions, please get in contact with us! NOHWA is organizing to confront the RTA board and rally fellow bus riders to demand the expansion of bus routes. Alliance members have been crashing RTA board meetings and won’t stop until buses are expanded, and all our fellow workers have reasonable commute times. Many hospitality workers living in The East and other surrounding areas often have three-plus hour commutes home. This is unacceptable and must be addressed.
Five members of the NOHWA spoke directly to the RTA board that is responsible for the current state of N.O. public transit and made our demands known. We demand the immediate end to the use of millions in public funds on expensive streetcars that cater to tourists. We demand buses that come every 15 minutes, and we demand an immediate expansion of the East Owl bus line. We demand the end to late night bus route consolidation.
We will be returning monthly until our demands are met. We will continue to organize and hold the RTA accountable until we see the RTA meeting the needs of working class people. If you are a disgruntled bus rider or hospitality worker come to our weekly meetings! Our organizing meetings are every Monday at 7pm at 1418 N Claiborne Ave. If you can’t make it, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and make your voice heard. We will use your statement to amplify the fight for better buses. Calling all bus riders! Calling all hospitality workers to organize with us!
Who are we? We are Workers!
The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance is an organization created by and for hospitality workers. We fight for our long overdue rights using the power of collective struggle. Under the guidance of labor history we know that an organized workforce is how workers win.
This city has 100,000 hospitality workers, organized & united we have the power to shut this city down. If we all went on strike tomorrow the money would stop flowing, and our bosses and representatives would have no choice but to adhere to our demands.
We are opposed to all forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. We support full rights & protections for our immigrant coworkers. We understand our bosses use tactics that weaponize forms of discrimination to further divide workers. We must stand firm against these divisive tactics.
Our purpose is to organize our fellow hospitality workers so that we may secure just working conditions in our industry—wages we can live on, benefits to support our families, and freedom from harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Only through organizing will we be able to demand a better future for hospitality workers. We fight for better working conditions, both for workers currently in the industry and the children in the community who will inherit the industry.
Join us! Together we will win.