Issue #6 Immediate Expansion of the East Owl

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.

Workers’ Correspondence

-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.

INDUSTRY:

a poem

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?

-JD

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 neworleanshospitalityworkers@gmail.com 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.

Issue #5 Ya Manager is NOT Ya Friend!

Organizing For Better Working Conditions: 101

-By Alec Arceneaux

If you work in the Hospitality industry, you’ve probably had to deal with a lot of bullshit from your bosses and managers. You’ve probably also noticed that there’s not much you can do about unfair conditions by yourself. Our bosses are smarter than we like to give them credit for: they know exactly how much they can get away with, and how to trick you into thinking that this is the way things have to be. There’s one thing that scares them, and that’s an organized workforce. You and your coworkers all have the same interests, it’s just a matter of fighting together.

Talk to your coworkers. This is the most important step. Try to get together with your coworkers sometime after work, away from bosses, first individually then later as groups. Find out their specific issues with the job. This is especially important with workers from different races, genders, sexualities, and abilities, as well as different positions in the workplace. Figure out the workers who are most disgruntled and the most willing to take action and unite with them. Find the ones who are mostly complacent and push them to understand how badly they and their coworkers are being exploited. And identify which workers are actively an obstacle to organizing, whether they have management aspirations, they’re loyal to the boss, snitches, or they’re a toxic coworker. These workers need to be kept separate from your organizing movements and not allowed to sway or scare the moderate workers. As you meet with coworkers, be cautious, and keep track of what you find out. Gathering this information is an important first step towards uniting the whole workforce.

Agitate and educate. Once you’ve got a sense for what issues are most pressing for your coworkers, it’s now a matter of convincing them to take action. Ask them how they think something might change. Would they get their demands if they asked the boss politely? What if a couple people asked the boss? What if every employee asked the boss, together? Reassure them that others feel the same way. Remind them that one worker might not be much, but the company can’t function without the whole workforce. Our strength doesn’t come from what’s right or fair, but from the power we have when we stand together for what’s right and fair.

Inoculate. Bosses have certain responses to organizing that they use to bully their employees. Luckily, we know their responses from years of experience. Always look to la- bor history as a reference for labor organiz- ing. There, we see bosses and management have used the same tactics for generations. Luckily for this reason we can predict their movement. It’s important to be proactive in warning your coworkers about these tactics. When we are aware and warned ahead of time, we can be prepared to overcome the divisive tactics our bosses use to keep us divided and begging for crumbs . The boss will maybe try to offer incentives and perks, to prove they “care.” They might give priv- ileges to certain employees, to turn them against others. They might schedule one-on-one meetings, to talk about pay individually or hear employees’ concerns. They might have a big group meeting, where they spread false propaganda about unions and workers’ rights. Remind your coworkers that standing together and not falling for their divisive tactics is the only way for REAL change. Power concedes nothing without a demand.

Make your demands, and stay the course. When you’ve got everybody on board, now is the time for action. Start with small easy demands first, something the boss should be able to say yes to immediately. Get as many employees as you can to make the demand together at the same time. Seeing everybody at once will let your boss know you’re serious. If they concede to your first demand, great! Use that momentum to work up to bigger ones. If they refuse, now you’ve got more evidence for your coworkers that your boss will do anything they can to keep you down.The most important thing is constant communication and solidarity. The more dedicated you and your coworkers are to fighting together, the more you can accomplish.

Interested in meeting with fellow hospitality workers who are also organizing for better working conditions to receive further guid- ance and support? Join The New Orleans Hospitality Workers OrganizingAlliance, we meet weekly.

Reach out to neworleanshosptalityworkers@gmail.com or 504-444-9096.

Workplace harassment tip: Did you know that Louisiana is a one-party recording state? This means that only one party to a conversation needs to give con- sent for a conversation to be recorded. So, if you are experiencing wage theft, workplace abuse, or mistreatment, it is completely legal to record the conversations you are having with your supervisor on your phone with-out their consent. This can be useful if you feel that you are being unfairly treated, and would like to have proof of that mistreatment - either for a direct action campaign, a lawsuit, or in order to file a complaint with the company. However, you must be an active participant in the conversation, meaning that you can’t legally record a conversation that other people are having without you.

NOLA McDonald’s Workers Strike Against Sexual Harassment

-By Dylan Borne

On September 18th, McDonald’s workers with Fight For 15 walked out of the job ad part of a national McDonald’s strike for an end to sexual harassment, a $15/hr minimum wage, and the right to a union. Specifically, they demanded comprehensive sexual harassment training for all managers/employees, a safe and effective system for responding to complaints, and the formation of a committee that includes Mc-Donald’s workers, corporate representatives, and representatives of leading national women’s groups to chart a path forward so that nobody who works for McDonald’s has to deal with sexual harassment.

Michael, McDonald’s worker, spoke up about how his manager laughed at him for reporting sexual harassment as a man, and how no one should be dismissed like that.

Tonya, McDonald’s worker: “When I reported my sexual harassment, they did not take me seriously, one of the managers said that I was giving sex appeal... other things happened, so much worse, I reported them and everything, again and again, nothing was done at all. Since workers like me don’t have a union or union rights, McDonald’s, we have no one else to turn to.”

Nicki, McDonald’s worker: “We have to come out of the corners, come out of the closet, and we have to be heard”

Workers Correspondence

-By Anonymous

Hi, I’m a 19 year old who was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. I have worked in retail the majority of my life. In April of 2018 I joined a job training program for youth called Liberty’s Kitchen. I was paid $25 dollars a day, which is just $3 dollars an hour with no tips. When I was in the program I didn’t have many complaints, I only felt people should be paid for their work. The program itself with the externships is generating profit, but unfortunately only for those who have the power to inflate their pay.

At Liberty’s Kitchen they have a “donation” bucket out which is arranged in a way that makes it look like trainees and employees receive tips, but we do not. Customers often put money in there thinking that we do. I firmly believe front-of-house workers and trainees should receive those would-be tips. I graduated the program with the same mindset of wanting people to be paid for the work they do. I feel generally the program was started with good intentions, but there are many improvements I’d like to see.

This program can be improved in many ways, starting with a living wage. There are other youth job training programs in the city that pay fair wages, so Liberty’s Kitchen can afford that too. I feel when people are being paid $3 dollars an hour at $25 dollars a day that makes them feel comfortable with the idea of getting underpaid. When we’re placed in restaurant externships we are working real jobs, but still only making $3 dollars an hour. I’d like to see trainee make real wages for real work. I’m a youth activist and i fight for the rights of youth workers, and I feel as though being paid fairly for hard work matters. This program is like a full time job, we may be youth workers but many of us have bills to pay.

I see more people graduating the program who aren’t getting better jobs, than those who are. I wanna see people given a full guaranteed job offer when they complete the program, through the programs partners or other supporting restaurants in the community. I would like to see the program give participants more advanced culinary training. Participants should have proof of culinary training, to help them into better paying jobs when they graduate. I would like participants to learn more culinary skills, food safety, dining room serving, and real applicable cooking skills for on the job.

The program should put more time into job placement, writing recommendations for trainees, teaching how to properly pre-pare for interviews, and organizing jobs fairs. For me this looks more like a program that actively prepares participants for jobs in New Orleans restaurants. I would like to see the program teach trainee about our rights as workers, and about workplace organizing against abuse, harassment, wage theft, etc. To help truly prepare us to enter this exploitative industry, and give us the knowledge we need to improve it.

Ya Manager is Not Ya Friend!

-By Ashlee Pintos

Serve the People comes to you live from your fellow co-workers, out here in New Orleans in the struggle to get by, by any means. But we in the Committee are tired of working for tips. We’re tired of struggling to make ends meet—the RTA buses that never come, the rent that’s just too high, and the fact that we, the Hospitality Workers, do all the work and only get crumbs. We gotta get organized and we gotta build solidarity in our workplaces. So firstly, what’s important to know is that Ya Manager is NOT ya friend.

Why do managers exist? Most managers in bars, restaurants, hotels, etc are not the owners of the business but are there to be people of authority. They often get paid more than the workers plus benefits, a lot of the time don’t do all the work that we do, and are in charge of all the things that—let’s be real—the real money makers are too lazy to do themselves (schedules, inventory, etc). As far as we are concerned, the managers are there to maintain and create division in our work spaces which helps them in achieving the end goal: keeping workers silent and shutting down any type of organizing. Lots of these people are just glorified snitches, y’all.

Now, I know, some of y’all might be thinking: “aw, my manager works really hard too!” Or “my manager is so nice, not like other managers.” Let me be clear: beyond the individual people, the entire position of manager is NO FRIEND OR HELP TO THE WORKER.

Whether or not your personal manager is “kind” or “funny” or “doesn’t even make THAT much more than you,” they were bought into this position of power! At the end of the day they can fire you, give you a horrible schedule, and they report to the big bosses and owners whose only interest is the big money—not you, not any of us. They accepted the manager title and all that comes with it, which means that they reinforce the power dynamics that the big bosses want: workers at the very bottom, doing all the work, serving with a smile.

Strategies used by management to control and divide the workforce include: the division of labor, organizational hierarchy, rules and procedures, the use of secrecy and hoarding of knowledge, spreading false gossip about co-workers, blaming you being overworked on other workers who are also overworked (making sure we fight with each other instead of looking up at our bosses for better wages/conditions), and the maintenance of racial and gender divisions and placement in the workforce. Managers rely on the fact that people need a job as a powerful force for motivation. Their interests (which are inherently aligned with business owners) is not to make working conditions better for employees, but in keeping wages low, profits high, and their boots firmly on our necks.Their jobs is to preserve the current dis-balance of power.

Managers are commonly responsible for: Firing us when we leave to have our children, firing us for calling in sick, firing us for voicing complaints about sexual harassment, firing us for being unable to keep a consistent babysitting schedule (due to inconsistent work scheduling), firing us if we can’t come in due to family emergencies, such as: your child being in the hospital, a family member’s death, your partner giving birth, etc. And MANY other unjust firing practices. Are these the actions of someone with the best interests of workers at heart? No. We are human beings, in many other places these actions are considered inhumane and are illegal. Yet our bosses and managers continue to treat us as less than deserving of basic human rights and dignity. The reality is that this is a struggle between two classes, the working class and the owners. Our interests are inherently at odds with each other. Our bosses seek to keep wages low, and profits high. Unfortunately, despite relating to our managers on some levels, they are there to maintain the interests of business owners, which includes keeping us from gaining the wages, benefits, respect, and dignity we deserve.

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 Comité 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 las trabajadores. Como todos que trabajan en la industria de hospitalidad saben, uno de los problemas más graves que enfrenta- mos 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 nosotras 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 niñas, 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 ser- vir 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 NOHWC ha colectado más de 3,000 firmas de lxs trabajadores quienes apoyan al decreto. 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 co- munidad, iglesias, más de 30 doctores, maestros en la ciudad, y abogados locales como Bill Quigley de la clínica de ley de Loyola.

Unstable workweeks & scheduling = Unstable Homes, Families & Communities

NOHWC Work Week Ordinance Campaign

-By Skye Thomas

This ordinance, in varying forms, has been passed by multiple cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Emeryville, San Jose, Washington D.C., and New York City. The ordinance recognizes that hospitality workers need to know when they are working to properly schedule childcare, doctor’s appointments, other necessary appointments, transportation, school, and if they have a second job. It is in the general interest of the entire city that service workers health be protected and that workers who are ill are not forced to work. It is also in the interest of the entire city that parents have stable employment that is family friendly and enables parents to participate in and provide a stable involved relationship.

The Hospitality Workers Alliance has collected over 3000 signatures from workers and is working to build mass community support. Want to help in this effort? Sign the petition, help get petition signatures from your co workers, friends, and family, arrange a presentation through the HWC for your co workers, community organization, church, etc. Show up in support when city council puts the Work Week Ordinance on the agenda, give a statement in support. But most of all fellow hospitality workers come organize with us!

Specifically, we call for the passage of the following Worker and Community Work Week Ordinance to apply to all places of employment:

•Requirement of all employers to provide a work schedule 14 days in advance.

•Should employers ask an employee to change days worked or alter the schedule that is posted an employee may voluntarily accept or reject the offer without retaliation.

•Should the employee voluntarily accept the schedule change without 14 days’ notice, the employee will be paid a $100 premium for doing so.

•Employers shall not schedule workers without a 12-hour rest period between shifts.

•Employers shall not schedule workers to shift from day to night without the worker’s consent.

•All workers shall receive 12 paid sick days a year.

•Employers shall consider the need for parents to attend meetings with teachers or counselors as in the interest of the entire city and shall not refuse employee’s request or a scheduling change.

•Pregnant workers who an perform their duties shall not be subjected to harassment to leave and shall be guaranteed reemployment at an equal job when able to return to work.

•A commission shall be created to adjudicate claims.

•If found guilty of violating the ordinance, employers shall make employee whole and be fined $1,000 for the first offense, $2,000 for the second, and $5,000 for any subsequent offenses.

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 co workers. 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.

Issue #4 Return Our stolen Tax Dollars

Convention board meeting disrupted:

workers demand “return our stolen tax dollars!”

-By Alec Arceneaux

It’s never enough for the rich and powerful in this city. The latest theft comes from none other than the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, the (unelected) board that runs the Convention Center. Despite taking nearly a billion dollars in public funding in the past forty years, they want $329.5 million more to build a massive new 1,200-room luxury hotel.

Every year, $140 million goes directly from hotel taxes to various unelected commissions, bypassing the city budget. These commissions are run entirely by restaurant and hotel owners and other uber-wealthy crooks that have made their fortunes off the backs of poor workers for years. It’s no surprise that these commissions have only the pocketbooks of their directors in mind, and not the needs of average New Orleanians.

Rather than simply roll over and allow these criminals to get away with this, the Hospitality Workers Committee is speaking up. At the Convention Center board’s latest open meeting on August 22nd, the NOHWA, along with other concerned community members, disrupted business as usual and demanded justice.

“ Playing with the people’s money, while telling the people there’s not enough to cover basic necessities should be a crime. But unfortunately the crimes of the rich have always been accepted under a corrupt system. If the law won’t hold those in power accountable for this theft, the people will” said Meg Maloney, a cook and member of NOHWA. With the money that they plan to steal from us, they could:

• Double the capacity of child-care centers for working class parents ($7 million)

•Provide a year of housing, healthcare, and job training for every homeless person in the city ($13 million)

•Make health insurance available for all of the city’s uninsured workers ($122 million)

•And STILL have $187.5 million left over to provide the necessities our city has neglected for decades, like increasing minimum wage, fixing the Sewerage & Water Board to prevent flooding, funding public schools, improving public transportation and potholes, etc. etc.

Of course, other newspapers in the city have only been talking about the revenue that this hotel will bring in, never mind the cost, never mind who will actually be receiving that revenue. We won’t be so easily fooled, though. The Hospitality Workers Committee have one simple demand: Return the people’s stolen tax dollars back to the general budget, and use it to SERVE THE PEOPLE.

Workers of San Antonio Fight and Win 8 Paid Sick Days!

-By Dylan Borne

Texan workers fight and win for the sec- ond time this year! On August 16th, after a long and protracted union struggle, the workers of San Antonio pushed an ordinance through their city council that guarantees every worker 64 hours of paid sick leave per year. That’s a total of eight 8-hour paid sick days off. This comes in the wake of a similar victory in Austin in February, which passed its own sick leave ordinance.

The sticking point is that corpo-rate-backed politicians and bureaucrats are already challenging both ordinances. While the laws went through the two city governments, members of the Texas State legislature want them repealed, and the Attorney General is filing a lawsuit in the courts to tear down the ordinance. The Attorney General claims that the ordi- nance “violates minimum wage laws” by paying workers for time they didn’t work. Essentially, he’s taking laws that were designed to protect workers and turning them against them.

The hypocrisy of these politicians is blaring. Whenever city governments are funding more cops or prisons, state “rep-resentatives” completely support letting local racist politicians make all the decisions. But when it’s a question of workers rights, all of a sudden they want the state government to step in and overrule local ordinances.

But Texan workers know how to fight back. In San Antonio, they have 70,000city-verified signatures in support of the ordinance.

When the workers are organized and militant, their voices are heard. The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance stands in full solidarity with the workers of Austin and San Antonio in their struggle.

Workers Correspondence

-By S.T

When I started my job at a mid-city crawfish and catering restaurant I was making 8.25 an hour, I quickly dedicated myself to helping run their kitchen, working six days a week as their main grill cook. My co workers and I went above and beyond working away our days in the over one hundred degree kitchen. My bosses constantly told me I’d get a raise soon, “you’re management material!” they’d say. Of course they were telling everyone that, they had each individual person working for a raise they’d never get. “Just one more week and you’ll get a raise!” They’d say. A few weeks later our wages were cut to 6.25 an hour.

They tried to excuse the cutting of our wages, saying tips would bring us to a decent wage, but we were already below poverty wages before. My boss didn’t care if we could feed and house ourselves, they just cared about increasing their own profits. My coworkers and I deserved better treatment. All hospitality workers in this city need better treatment and compensation for their labor. If my co workers and I had walked out the day they lowered our pay, we would’ve been able to demand our 8.25 hour back plus more.

Instead of addressing the lowered pay as a collective, like I had suggested, some of my co workers decided to approach our bosses on an individual basis to ask for higher pay, for this they were fired. To our bosses we as individuals are disposable, but as a collective we have bargaining power. Without us workers there couldn’t be ANY profits. We could’ve prevented my co workers from losing their jobs. If we’d all walked off the job together and shut them down, the owners would’ve been forced to meet our very reasonable demand for decent pay.

Our bosses tell us we should only ask for raises on a individual basis. They tell us we shouldn’t worry about our co workers and what they’re making. This weakens the collective bargaining power that we workers are capable of wielding. When wages get cut everyone suffers. I hope that next time I’m in this position my coworkers and I can work to build solidarity and work together in our collective struggle for better wages and treatment.

New Orleans Department of Public Works Employees Go on Strike

-By Charlotte Dillon

“Believe me, we love our job. We wouldn’t be out here doing it if we didn’t, but we want to get paid just like you would pay anyone else. We can go anywhere else and get paid more. We need our money,” Kennan Mitchell, a Department of Public Works employee for the City of New Orleans, told WDSU news. Approximately 15 of the 20 DPW employees went on strike on August 13th. DPW workers are demanding an increase in staffing, safety training, and better pay.

With only 20 DPW employees, they do not have the manpower to clean all the catch basins that alleviate flooding or repair all the potholes, major problems that are evident in our city. Workers also say they lack the appropriate equipment and training to keep up with the city’s maintenance needs.

In order to work for the DPW, workers are required to live in the city of New Orleans. However, a 2017 study determined that renters in New Orleans need to make at least $18 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Workers claim that the best paid bring home $14 an hour with some workers earning as low as $10 an hour. These wages are too low for DPW workers to afford to live in the city they work in. In addition, workers claim that the city contracts outside workers to clean the catch basins and pays them $30 per hour, more than double that DPW workers make.

Workers picketed in front of City Hall, but got no response from Mayor LaToya Cantrell. The Mayors’ office claimed that the workers have stopped striking, and returned to work.

Strike or no strike, the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance stands in solidarity with DPW workers in their fight for a better wage and a safer work environment. Let’s hold our city officials accountable!

Work Week Ordinance Campaign:

Join the fight for paid sick leave and scheduling laws!

-By Marie Torres

One of the most exciting ongoing struggles that the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance has undertaken in the fight to pass the Work Week Ordinance. It is a simple ordinance that would provide basic labor laws concerning scheduling as well as 12 paid sick days! This ordinance, in various forms has been passed in several U.S. cities such as San Jose, San Francisco, Emeryville, Seattle, NYC, DC. Just this year, Austin, Texas became the first city in the South to pass paid sick days for workers. As anyone who has worked in the industry knows, one of the greatest issues that workers face are abusive and inconsistent scheduling. We don’t get any paid sick days, let alone the ability to call off work when we are sick without fear of getting fired. Pregnant workers and new mothers have no job security for maternity leave, and are often pushed off of schedules once they are far into their pregnancy. Thousands of us workers throughout the city do not receive our schedules until the night before or the same day that they might have to work, and schedules are different from week-to-week.

This causes major problems with scheduling doctor’s appointments, childcare, and keeps parents from being able to be involved in their child’s education (parent-teacher conferences, school events, etc). Lastly, the lack of sick leave in the industry leaves thousands going to work sick every year. Especially with this past year’s flu epidemic (one of the worst ever), it is incredibly unsafe and unsanitary for hospitality workers to be serving/cooking food and dealing with tourists while they are ill. Because managers and bosses are often in charge of making schedules, another huge problem in the industry is that they use scheduling as a tool to keep the workers down and to make workers do whatever they want. Currently, if a manager does not like a worker, they can simply schedule the worker on slower days, or change their shifts from nights one week to days the next just to try and get the worker to quit. If worker turns down a manager’s request to work a double, the worker’s schedule the next week might be the manager’s punishment. This also is a tool for sexual harassment where bosses have been known to hold worker’s shift’s over their heads if they do not do what the boss wants. Favorites are always clear: the bosses’ favorites get the best shifts which only serves to further divide workers.

This Ordinance, when passed, will put scheduling in the worker’s hands: it will no longer be a tool of the bosses to exploit the workers! This Ordinance will protect general New Orleans community. So far, the NOHWA has gathered over 3,000 signatures from workers who support the Ordinance. However, we know that broad community support and collec- tive peoples’ power is the best and only way to put enough pressure on politicians to pass legislation that helps the workers. So far, there has been support from various community organizations, churches, over 30 medical doctors, educators in the city, as well as local lawyers including Bill Quigley of the Loyola Law Clinic.

Thousands of Amazon Workers Strike in 5 Countries

“After two months, I felt I couldn’t work there and maintain a healthy state of mind,” said Seth King, an Amazon worker in Virginia, talking about Amazon’s painful working conditions.

And he’s not alone. Some employees have passed out from summer dehydration in windowless ware-houses. Others live paycheck to paycheck, barely surviving off of food stamps. The better-paid ones find themselves on ten hour shifts with timed bathroom breaks and “mandatory over-time,” leaving them little time for their kids or their own health.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, is the richest man in modern history. He makes $107 million per day, enough to end homelessness in several cities with plenty left over to give his workers healthcare and a raise.

What’s more? The 2018 Prime Day sale was estimated to bring in another $3.4 billion for the company—and in 2017, Amazon didn’t pay a nickel in US income taxes.

So the workers decided to make Amazon pay. On the Prime Day sale, thousands of workers in Poland, Spain, Germany, Italy, and France walked off the job on Prime Day to slash the company’s bottom line. They demanded higher wages, healthcare benefits, overtime benefits, and an end to the abusive scheduling practices that either cut your hours too low or work you to death.

It’s important for all workers to understand that we live in a globally connected economy, and corporations move from country to country to force workers to compete for their jobs. They pit you against your neighbor, making you accept lower pay to justify paying others even less. But when workers in one country, or five, say that they won’t stand for low pay and mistreatment, it makes it that much harder for the company to drive down everyone’s wages.

So, just like a rising tide lifts all boats, a workers’ victory anywhere in the world

is a workers’ victory everywhere in the world.

Amazon workers, the Hospitality Workers Alliance stands with you and your demands!

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 co workers. 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.

Issue # 3 Bamboulas Case Closed

BAMBOULA’S CASE CLOSED:

WORKERSORGANIZED FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND WON!!

-By Julianna Luna Vasquez

In July of 2017 I began working at Bamboula’s after moving to the Big Easy from New York City. Working on Frenchmen Street was a blast and I was pretty content making good money and hanging out with new friends in the service industry. As time went on at Bamboula’s my manager Jim became a bit too friendly and made a habit of invading my personal space. My co-workers began to notice too and I did what I could to address him directly and get him to stop.

One night he crossed the line by slapping my behind, that was it for me, this wasn’t the first time and I had it. I addressed my General Manager Jennifer Collins who shrugged it off by saying he was already getting suspended for something else, and that was that. It was there that Bamboula’s failed. They disregarded me and my complaints of Jim’s behavior so I had to quit. The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance listened to my story and together we organized an action against sexual harassment to hold Bamboulas accountable.

My story was a common story amongst the women who serve your drinks and meals, I couldn’t stand by and let another story like this play out. With the help of the HWC I found legal representation and filed an official complaint with the E.E.O.C. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). On February 23rd, 2018 The March Against Sexual Harassment was one of the most powerful days of my life. Together in community with my fellow hospitality workers, we stood against an abusive work environment and confronted Bamboula’s. We marched from Congo Square through the French Quarter to Bamboula’s front door.

We demanded that they take responsibility for their lack of action, when confronted with sexual harassment in the workplace. The agreement we came to terms with is one that puts education and communication into action as means to turn the tides of Bamboula’s and hopefully places like it. The New Orleans Hospitality Alliance will facilitate a sexual harassment workshop for the Bamboula’s workers where they will be paid by Bamboula’s for their time. Management of Bamboula’s will undergo a sexual harassment training by a professional provider chosen from a list curated by my lawyer Mr. Most and I. This is an agreement I consider a victory!

This is a framework for cases to come where organization and education come hand in hand to solve a deeply rooted issue impending on women and others in the hospitality industry. I want my case to be a catalyst for change in the service industry. At the beginning of this case I felt powerless and small, incapable of holding management responsible for the sexual harassment and disrespect I faced at BambouIa’s on a regular basis. This was not started on a motive to receive attention or money.

I tried to go through the right channels and resolve this in the “correct” manner but was met with negligence. This all started because I, Julianna Vasquez, and all of the women in the industry are entitled to respect, something every worker deserves. This is why I took a stand and shared my story. Regardless of what we wear, regardless of what is assumed or judged by others, and regardless of how much someone makes a night, NO ONE deserves to be violated or degraded. The workplace is where people earn their living not where they put themselves up for judgement, harassment, or abuse. Especially when perpetrated by management & customers, who abuse their authority.

I wanted to take a stand not solely for myself but for all women. Women in the industry are consistently put in the position to choose between their own self respect, or their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Sexual harassment and abuse of workers is rampant in the service industry, and I encourage others to use what power and voice you do have to stand up against it. It will not be easy. You will be scrutinized, ridiculed, and questioned at every turn. But this is how we can create change in this industry.

By standing together, using our voices, and organizing to hold establishments accountable, we workers yield the power to create the work environment we deserve. This direct action would not have been possible without the endless support of my family, my friends, andmost importantly the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance. I can only hope that this case inspires others to share their story, to rise up for a change, not just for themselves but for all workers everywhere.

To those who answered to my story with a shrug and an apathetic “that’s a part of the industry honey” I have something to say: that is the lamest excuse to enable predatory behavior and harassment. Will that be your response to your daughter, sister, wife or friend in the same situation? This exact outlook is what has perpetuating this behavior in this industry in the first place. That may been part of the industry before but guess what? Not anymore TIMES UP!

Debunking harmful myths about our migrant coworkers.

*reprinted from the New Orleans Workers Group*

-By Ashlee Pintos

The state of Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world and one of the lowest ranking public school systems. Unemployment of black men is over 50%, the federal minimum wage has not changed in over 25 years, Air BnBs have taken over neighborhoods as rents sky rocket--all while the rich ruling class of this city celebrate 300 years of oppression. Working class people in this city are definitely struggling, and our immigrant coworkers are not to blame. Once we realize the true cause of the issues at home, it’s not hard to see how this plays out both nationally and internationally.

It’s time to take a truthful look at the attacks being wages against immigrants. To draw workers’ attention away from their common enemy, the corporate government and media urges U.S. born workers to blame immigrants for their troubles. But is there any truth to their claims? It’s time we separate myths from facts.

MYTH: IMMIGRANTS DO NOT PAY TAXES

FACT: In 2014 alone, immigrant-led households in the state of Louisiana alone paid $966.7 million in Federal taxes and $363.3 Million in state and local taxes. What is even more important to note is that undocumented immigrants STILL paid about $68 million in taxes just in 2014, but if they were able to obtain legal status, their tax contributions would have been even more: an estimated $83.2 million! Also, DACA recipients in Louisiana paid an estimated $7.5 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

FACT: MAJOR CORPORATIONS AND BIG BUSINESS RECEIVE ENDLESS TAX BREAKS AND EVEN RECEIVE TAX MONEY TO FURTHER THEIR PROFITS. Just in 2016, the State of Louisiana paid out $216 Million more in tax credits and rebates to corporations than it collected in corporate income and franchise taxes. Every single year, over $140 Million gen-erated by taxes, such as the food and beverage tax (paid by locals) and tourist taxes like the hotel occupancy tax, DO NOT go into the city budget.

Instead, this money is given to private businesses such as the Tourism Marketing Corporation, New Orleans and Company, and countless others WITHOUT THE PEOPLES’ CONSENT.

MYTH: IMMIGRANTS TAKE JOBS AWAY

FACT: We are losing jobs, but it’s not the fault of our fellow workers. Companies are not only allowed to move out of the country, but are also given tax breaks to do so. Every “free-trade” agreement has reduced jobs both here and in Mexico. The companies want workers to compete against each other.

FACT: It is the capitalist system of profit-not immigrants-that prevents us from guaranteeing good jobs for all. Capital-that is, money invested to exploit workers—can go anywhere in the world while we the workers pay the price. Our work, our production, is connected globally. That’s why there are no borders in the workers’ struggle.

MYTH: IMMIGRANTS ARE A DRAIN ON THE ECONOMY

FACT: IMMIGRANTS PRODUCE JOBS. Over 9% of immigrants living in Louisiana are self-employed. In 2014, their businesses employed 39,000 people and generated $287 million in income.

FACT: IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTERS COST TAXPAYERS BILLIONS. It is estimated that over $3 Billion a year in U.S. taxpayer money goes to detaining undocumented people, a price that is rising since Trump’s zero-tolerance policy.

FACT: FOR-PROFIT PRISONS GET RICH WHILE WORKERS SUFFER

______________________________________________________________________________________

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR CORPORATE PROFIT, BUT NONE FOR WORKERS?

A huge portion of money generated from Tourism taxes goes right into the hands of the city’s wealthiest corporations and business owners all with the politician’s approval, without the people knowing about it. For example, in 2015 alone, hotel taxes were $165 Million. Local tax on all food and beverages (without voter approval) were $11.2 Million and all of these taxes were turned over to private corporations that are official commissions that have been put into the city charter along with the taxes dedicated to them that go directly to them.

Yes, over $140 Million every year goes to big business like Convention and Visitors Bureau ($17 Million), the LA Stadium and Exposition District ($57 Million), the Exhibition Hall Authority ($58 Million), and the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation ($12 Million).

In all, there are over 60 entities that receive money generated by tourism taxes. This is money that does not go into the general budget, does not get put towards bettering our communities, healthcare, or education. With all this money floating around, shouldn’t the workers at least have access to healthcare?

It gets worse, too. A recent report called the Disparity Study stated that only 2% of revenue generated by business in New Orleans goes to Black Businesses--that’s literally pennies on the dollar going to Black New Orleanians. And, the people in charge of these commissions, work hand-in-hand with the city council and the mayor to do this dirty work.

For example, the Board members of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation are from the biggest hotel and casino chains, real estate developers, and from other commissions such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the LA Restaurant Associations, as well as city council members and future mayor Latoya Cantrell, Stacy Head, Nadine Ramsey and Jason Williams.

As you can see, big business and government are working closely together to profit while the workers suffer. Although outrageous, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Decisions made by the state legislature are made in favor of big business, too.

In 2013, the city was denied by the state legislature a proposal to increase hotel tax by 1.75% for the general budget. One year later, in 2014, the state legislature passed a increased hotel tax (by you guessed it: 1.75%!) to be dedicated to the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tourism Marketing Corporation. Police of the French Quarter also got a piece: 0.25%. None of these figures talk about the tax breaks and back door deals that happen without the peoples’ approval or knowledge.

Workers Correspodence

-By S.O

I’ve been working at the same restaurant for about two years now. Like many restaurants in this city, I started off as a busser and worked my way up to server. For the first year I only worked weekends and thoroughly enjoyed it - the hours were amazing, the food was yummy, the pay was good, and my coworkers were like family. But once my schedule opened up and I was made a full time employee, I started to see how little this restaurant values their employees.

One of my own experiences with unfair treatment came three months after I moved up. I was informed that the company had accidentally forgotten to switch my pay from $7.25 (bussing wage) to $2.13 (serving wage) and therefore they had overpaid me about $1800. Although I had never seen most of that money (majority of it went to taxes) they gave me two options to pay it back out of pocket or to deduct the amount owed out of my paycheck.

I gave them permission to do the latter, which meant that instead of making $2.13 an hour, I would be making $0.01-0.05 an hour. They estimated that it would take about three months to settle my debt, but in actuality it took six. While this worked in my favor for this year’s tax season, I’m worried that it will negatively impact my taxes for 2019.

Taking account, and taking the right notes:

A guide to documenting workplace abuse

-By Anonymous worker

We all know that managers and companies try to use fear tactics to hold our jobs over our heads, intimidating us to accepting treatment we wouldn’t normally would accept. If you have been in hospitality for any time at all, I am sure you have your own version of the played out story of the manager that likes to bully, turn co workers against each other, and create heat- ed work atmospheres. They lay blame, pretend to be our friends, make threats to get everyone unnerved, and even fire us when we voice complaints of abuse.

Even fire us when we leave to have our children, or have medical emergencies. The extent to which unjust firings and treatment perpetrated by management and owners happens is far to often to view solely on an individual basis, but better viewed as a collective problem that the workers must organize to address.

If you find yourself in a work environment where management has their shit on backwards. If pay is coming out confusing, untimely, and distributions of the tips seem questionable. If shift demands are unreasonable. (And they even have the nerve to comment on your performance. When they are clearly overworking you with back to back shifts.). We have the tools we need to gather necessary receipts to help hold management and bosses accountable.

Shitty bosses and heartless companies have us under surveillance and use their power to get away with terrible treatment. It’s time our managers and bosses experienced surveillance & accountability from the workers. Workers need to take notes and make personal records of situations. We need to identify patterns and keep notes when we are not being treated right at work.

It’s often that an employer will fire a worker, after they make complaints of workplace abuse/violation of labor laws. This is illegal under federal law, and is considered wrongful workplace retaliation. This is just one of the many ways our bosses break federal labor laws. Unfortunately there are no state laws in place to protect workers, but we can hold our bosses accountable to federal laws, as we fight to get more protection on a city/state level.

There is always risk when authority feels their power or their control is being threatened. However, there would be no reason for someone in power to genuinely fear losing it unless there was a real chance that it could be taken. The potential power that workers have once organized is more than enough to win. The key is to make this documenting practice of power, as workers we must document our experiences. If we ever want to create accountability we’ll need to gather our receipts and build our collective power as workers.

You can keep a piece of paper on you or a small notepad. Do what feels safe and easy to access without being alarming to anyone. Here are somethings you might think about answering for yourself, and your own records. (take notes right after some- thing happens or before you go to bed).

Louisiana is a One-party consent states when it comes to recording conversations. “One-Party” Consent means as long as you are a participant in the conversation, you can record at will.

This means that you have the legal right to record any conversations you have with your bosses without them knowing about it.

But you CANNOT legally record conversations if you are not an actual PARTICIPANT in that conversation without those involved knowing about it.

If a management writes you up, ask for a copy of the disciplinary notice. Alway do your best to receive a copy/or get a picture of anything your employer has you sign. If you ever want to talk to someone more about your situation, reach out the Hospitality Workers Committee, we can help to navigate the situation, and help take action if necessary.

If you have a smartphone: You have an app for quick notes or sticky notes.

You have an email and can email messages to yourself.

You have a calendar and can make notes under dates.

You have a camera/video/recording

Time and date:

Quick Summary of situation:

What managers are involved:

Anyone else involved:

Is this only about you, or are others affected:

Are you being bullied:

Manipulated or Mistreated:

Is management using intimidation tactics:

What do you need to feel safe and supported on the job:

What needs to happen to make this situation right:

Introducing Serve the People

This is the 3rd issue of our grassroots monthly newsletter, made by and for the workers who create the tourism industry in New Orleans. We’re the ones who cook the food that tourists eat, make the beds that they sleep in and bike them around the quarter. We check them in, do their dishes, play them music, serve them drinks and clean up the mess they leave behind. These tourists do spend their money for the “experience”--lots of money. At least 7.5 billion dollars per year. And still most of us are poor and overworked, barely making ends meet. We have to stress about everything: bad public transportation, high rent and bills, regular flooding. It has a huge negative effect on our physical and mental health, but most of us don’t even have reliable access to medical care-let alone paid sick days.

With all of these problems and more: you are not alone. There are around ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND HOSPITALITY WORKERS IN NEW ORLEANS. We are all different in our specific circumstances. There is inequality among the workers in this industry--between different genders, different races, and different legal status. But the majority of us live in a similar reality: the reality of poverty. This newsletter exists to report on these realities. If we are ever going to have the power that we deserve in our city and at our jobs, we need to spread an understanding of the on-the-ground realities of the tourism industry from our perspective: the workers perspective. For this reason, we will use this newsletter to connect hospitality workers with an awareness of their shared struggles. We will spread this throughout the city, to as many workplaces as possible, to link the workers of New Orleans. We hope that one day the workers of New Orleans will march together for a better future--one band, one sound.

Issue # 2 An Open Letter to City Council

An Open Letter to New Orleans City Council Members

Jason Williams, Kristin Palmer and Jay H. Banks:

      Thank you for meeting with the Hospitality Workers Committee on May 30th, 2018. This meeting came about after our workers organization protested at a board meeting of the Tourism Marketing Corporation on May 15th. At that protest, we the workers, demanded that these funds be used to provide health-care for hospitality workers and to replace the lost wages of a worker, Laura Schnell, who suffers from a critical heart condition as a result of not having insurance. Thousands of workers throughout New Orleans do not have insurance, do not quality for Medicaid, and go untreated which leads to dire consequences such as the situation of Laura Schnell.

      Your response was to hold a press conference announcing that a new day was coming for us hospitality workers who currently suffer from low wages, wage insecurity, lack of sick pay, vacation time, workplace protections and humane scheduling. We quote Councilman Williams: “For the first 300 years of this city’s history, hospitality has looked one way, and I humbly submit that the next 300 years must look very different....I have made a clarion call to decision-makers in the industry to help us solve these issues and improve the quality of life of service industry employees.”

      We had hoped that in meeting with you following this press conference, that you three city council members would have presented us with concrete actions you would be willing to take to truly support the work of the NOHWC and workers rights. However, there were no concrete ideas to actually improve the conditions of workers; it was quite the opposite. At the meeting between you three council members and organizers from the NOHWC, you, Councilwoman Palmer, questioned whether or not it was legal to use these funds for a medical clinic or healthcare for hospitality workers.

      You three council members sit on the (non-elected) Tourism Marketing Corporation Board. The Board of these private/public commissions decides how the money is used. This does not require a city council vote. Will these millions of dollars go towards elaborate celebrations and grand openings for new business ventures for the city’s wealthiest? Will the board members enjoy a luxury meal served by the very workers they continuously chose to ignore? How long will the workers who hold up this city have to suffer while big business and corporations flourish from our labor?

     The workers of this city demand that the $140 Million generated by tourism taxes be put toward healthcare for us workers. We await a response with concrete actions.

     Sincerely,

              The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee


Workers response to claims of staff shortages.

By Nick Passabet

Restaurant owners are grumbling about staff shortages. Last week, nola.com and wwltv ran features highlighting the inability of bosses to retain staff in their kitchens and dining floors. While they mention reasons for this (‘there are more enticing service opportunities like Lyft and Uber’, ‘there are too many restaurants in the city’, ‘there aren’t enough people living in the city’ paraphrase a few examples) the complaint itself is completely unfounded. There are thousands of capable New Orleanians who can fill these positions, so why aren’t bosses hiring them?

Not new is the fact that New Orleans is a majority Black city. It is especially despicable that the unemployment rate for African-American males (working age, and adjusted for seasonality) is 48%. When asked, countless New Orleans workers can attest to the racist hiring practices in this city. We see how the front and back of house is often segregated, placing black and brown workers in lower paying positions. Those with firing/ hiring power should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves: why aren’t you hiring people? Why aren’t you offering training? If restaurants want long-term workers they need to invest in them through training, consistent living wages, and benefits.

A thorough look at restaurant culture will unearth considerable racism, sexism, and other normalized inequalities. The subtext of the recent articles makes this power imbalance clear: half a dozen GMs, head chefs, and owners were interviewed (Christian Pendelton appears in both) but only one hired employee answers questions in one of the articles (wwltv). Having no voice in the mass media is the least concern of most restaurant workers. The “gig economy” ensures almost all of us have no protection from rampant wage theft, no protection from racial discrimination and harassment, no health insurance, no reliable public transportation, no free parking, no pensions, no protections from sexual harassment, no sick days or vacation time and basically no control over when or how much we will be working each week.

This entire write-up could have be spent simply debunking the misinformation Pen- delton spreads. It will suffice to say that for each waiter Mr. Pendelton claims is earning above a living wage, there are literally thousands of servers, dishwashers, line cooks, bartenders, bussers and others workers in restaurants across the city taking home poverty wages with no benefits and probably working multiple jobs with both jobs demanding full-time availability for part-time work. Stated even more briefly, he doesn’t know who he’s talking about.

Restaurants as they are currently operated are undesirable and hostile places to work. The ways they treat, and permit their customers to treat their employees is disgraceful. These jobs provide the bare minimum for survival in the 21st century, hardly any opportunities for those working to advance and no incentives for their workforce to stay. It’s time restaurant owners change how they’re treating their workforce, the industry can afford to make changes and improve the standard of working conditions. Workers see only crumbs of the $7.5 billion they can be counted on to generate in revenue each year. Owners will continue to ignore and silence the working people, we the cooks, servers, baristas, bartenders, dishwashers, house-keepers, valets, etc, must organize and demand the changes we want to see in our workplaces.

French Rail Workers Strike for their Rights

-By Dylan Borne

Workers in France have a very keen understanding of “acquired rights.” They know that the government doesn’t hand them anything without a fight: the workers had to struggle for what they have, from education to pensions to a stable work schedule. This philosophy pays off: French workers over the years have won pensioned retirement at age 60 and a 35-hour stable workweek with a decent salary. So when the government tries to cut back on these rights, the workers know to fight back. That’s exactly what’s been happening this past June. The “President for the wealthy” Emmanuel Macron wants to slash rail worker protections.

On top of these threats, their work conditions are already very unhealthy as it is. Rail workers are on the job late into the night one day and early in the morning on the other. They work with cancer-causing asbestos, and 30 to 50 die each year of asbestos-related disease. Now France’s president is acting like they don’t deserve the pay and protections that they have. It’s clear that wealthy rail corpWorations are pulling the strings with President Macron, trying to maximize their profits at the workers’ expense. But the rail workers won’t have it. 95% of them oppose the new law. 25,000 took to the streets in protest. Led by four major unions, workers across France have been striking for 2 out of every 5 days for 3 months. It’s their longest strike in 30 years. They chose this strategy so that they could make the strike protracted, expecting the government not to cave so easily. Sure enough, one union extended its strike to July when the government refused to meet its demands.

Students and retirees have joined in the protests, knowing that a rising tide lifts all boats (better pensions and wages for some workers forces other companies to raise pensions and wages for everyone to compete). Teachers, nurses, and air traffic controllers are all striking in solidarity, and are each negotiating pay raises and protections of their own.

The Hospitality Workers Alliance stands in solidarity from New Orleans! Our struggles for a predictable workweek, better pay, and benefits are the same as theirs. What’s true in France is true here: rights aren’t given, they are won.

What is The Hospitality Workers Alliance?

The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee 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 co workers. We understand our bosses use tactics that weaponize forms of discrimination to further divide workers, we must stand firm against these divisive tactics. The committee respects black, brown, women, and LGBTQ workers and welcomes them to take on leadership in the organization. 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 dis-ncrimination 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.

Issue #1 Addressing the Tourism Marketing Corporation Board

HOSPITALITY WORKERS ALLIANCE LETS

TOURISM MARKETING CORPORATION HAVE IT:

“WE DEMAND A FREE HEALTH CLINIC!”

CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS RESPOND WITH

PRESS CONFERENCE ENDORSING THE IDEA

-By Meg Maloney

On May 15th, The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee shook up the Tourism & Marketing Corporation Board meeting. The Tourism Marketing Corporation Board is an unelected board controlled by the biggest tourist companies. They get $140 million in hotel tax money without any public say in how its used. This tax money completely bypasses the City’s general budget without the people’s consent.

Wearing bright red t-shirts, 60 members stood while several representatives of the Committee gave statements demanding that the Tourism Corporation return our stolen taxes by building a FREE FULL-SERVICE MEDICAL CLINIC for hospitality workers. A few days later Council people Williams, Banks and Palmer held a press conference with the Corporation and the Convention Center stating that they agree this needs to be done. This is a great victory for the Committee and, more importantly, for the 88,000 hospitality workers who generate $7.5 billion dollars but see little of it returned to us. Committee member Pintos said “this came about through workers organizing ourselves, and we know we will have to keep organizing to hold the Council to their words and make the clinic a reality. We urge all our fellow workers to get involved in organizing with the Committee.” We are also fighting for a city ordinance for better scheduling and paid sick-days and will be urging the Council to take this up.

Introducing Serve The People

This is the first issue of our grassroots monthly newsletter, made by and for the workers who create the tourism industry in New Orleans. We’re the ones who cook the food that tourists eat, make the beds that they sleep in and bike them around the quarter. We check them in, do their dishes, play them music, serve them drinks and clean up the mess they leave behind.

These tourists do spend their money for the “experience”-- lots of money. At least 7.5 billion dollars per year. And still most of us are poor and overworked, barely making ends meet. We have to stress about everything: bad public transportation, high rent and bills, regular flooding. It has a huge negative effect on our physical and mental health, but most of us don’t even have reliable access to medical care let alone paid sick days.

With all of these problems and more: you are not alone. There are around

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND HOSPITALITY WORKERS IN NEW ORLEANS.

We are all different in ourspecific circumstances. There is inequality among the workers in this industry between different genders, different races, and different legal status. But the majority of us live in a similar reality: the reality of poverty.

This newsletter exists to report on these realities. If we are ever going to have the power that we deserve in our city and at our jobs, we need to spread an understanding of the on-the-ground realities of the tourism industry from our perspective: the workers perspective.

For this reason, we will use this newsletter to connect hospitality workers with an awareness of their shared struggles. We will spread this throughout the city, to as many workplaces as possible, to link the workers of New Orleans. We hope that one day the workers of New Orleans will march together for a better future-- one band, one sound.

Workers Correspondence

-By Laran Padua

My name is Laran Padua, although that is unimportant as my story is not just my own. It represents the harsh reality of an industry that maintains New Orleans’s economy. The service industry is one of our population’s largest employers and there are few if any protections in place for its workers. The service industry as a whole takes advantage of the people that make New Orleans the tourist destination it is. Without the line cooks, bartenders, waitresses, dishwashers and every one in between the New Orleans market for tourism would come to a halt. Yet we go underpaid and under-appreciated. Forced to work long hours in unsanitary environments, with unpredictable schedules and virtually no job security.

I have personally worked for companies here that demand their workers to stand in stagnant water, behind rodent-infested bars, working twelve to fourteen hour shifts with only six hours of off time, before having to be back at work the next day. If that sounds barbaric, it’s because it is. While everyone in the industry is taken advantage of and unprotected, expecting mothers are left the most vulnerable.

Earlier this year I was working at a restaurant called the Dry Dock cafe in Algiers point. This small neighborhood establishment is just one of many unjust employers throughout the city with no regard for the welfare of its employees. I was fortunate enough to become pregnant with my first child. I informed my employer, as a courtesy, that I was expecting. One week later I was terminated without warning or reason. I then proceeded to file for unemployment to supplement the loss of income and the Dry Dock Cafe appealed my claim not once but twice. This just further solidifies their lack of regard for their employees well-being.

Fortunately, after switching industries and cutting my income in half, I am currently employed. I was very lucky, but not all who are put in this position are. We need legislation in place to protect service industry employees, especially expecting mothers. Many service industry moms bring life into this world with no security or stability offered from employers. Service industry employees deserve basic rights. We deserve reasonable schedules, healthy work environments and protection when we are most vulnerable.

Workers’ Correspondence

-By C.D

People like to be welcomed into a restaurant that gives off an air of leisure, where the service is friendly and warm, and the food delicious. My place of employment tries to foster that environment for its customers. However, as an employee at one of New Orleans’ top-rated brunch restaurants, I can attest to a pattern of exploitation all too common in the restaurant industry. Employees are given the option of purchasing one meal per seven to eight hour shift that is paid out of our tips. On many days, workers don’t have time to eat at all because the restaurant often fills up during the first 15 minutes of being open. Many of the bussers and back of house staff work six to seven days a week, scheduled between two work weeks so that there is no chance of receiving overtime.

If someone needs to go to the dentist or take their child to the doctor, they must re- quest time off three weeks in advance in order to be certain that they will receive that day off. Schedules are not posted in a timely fashion, and many employees work five to six months without having regular days off. Although the front of house staff puts up with a lot of frustrating aspects of the job, the back of house receives less visibility and recognition. The kitchen is run by a chef who goes unchecked, intentionally hiring men who have been previously incarcerated only to fire his employees on a whim, yell at them all day and laugh in their faces when they ask for a raise.

All of these things are not uncommon in the hospitality industry in New Orleans. When I speak with other workers about my experience, I am always met with nods of understanding and similar stories.

Workers in New Orleans need the Work Week Ordinance. We are the friendly and warm faces that serve those that come to this city from far and wide. It is our work that provides restaurant owners, hotel owners and the city with its massive profits while most of us get paid way below a living wage. We need to know our schedules in advance in order to live our lives fully, we must be paid fairly, and we must be recognized for more than just our labor. We must have the ability to spend time with our children, access healthcare and strengthen our communities.

Work Week Ordinance Campaign:

NOHWC Fights For Sick Pay and Scheduling Laws

-By Ashlee Pintos

One of the most exciting ongoing struggles that the NOHWA has undertaken is the fight to pass the Work Week Ordinance. It is a simple ordinance that would provide basic labor laws concerning scheduling as well as 12 paid sick days! This ordinance, in various forms, has been passed in several U.S. cities such as San Jose, San Francisco, Emeryville, Seattle, NYC, DC. Just this year, Austin, Texas became the first city in the South to pass paid sick days for workers.

As anyone who has worked in the industry knows, one of the greatest issues that workers face is abusive and inconsistent scheduling. We don’t get any paid sick days, let alone the ability to call off work when we are sick with-out fear of getting fired. Pregnant workers and new mothers have no job security for maternity leave, and are often pushed off of schedules once they are far into their pregnancy. Thousands of us workers throughout the city do not receive our schedules until the night before or the same day that we might have to work, and schedules are different from week-to-week.

This causes major problems with scheduling doctor’s appointments, childcare, and keeps parents from being able to be involved in their child’s education (parent-teacher conferences, school events, etc). Lastly, the lack of sick leave in the industry leaves thousands going to work sick every year. Especially with this past year’s flu epidemic (one of the worst ever), it is incredibly unsafe and unsanitary for hospitality workers to be serving/cooking food and dealing with tourists while they are ill.

Because managers and bosses are often in charge of making schedules, another huge problem in the industry is that they use scheduling as a tool to keep the workers down and to make workers do whatever they want. Currently, if a manager does not like a worker, they can simply schedule the worker on slower days, or change their shifts from nights one week to days the next just to try and get the worker to quit. If worker turns down a manager’s request to work a double, the worker’s schedule the next week might be the manager’s punishment. This is also a tool for sexual harassment where bosses have been known to hold worker’s shifts over their heads if they do not do what the boss wants. Favorites are always clear: the boss’ favorites get the best shifts which only serves to further divide workers.

This Ordinance, when passed, will put scheduling in the worker’s hands: it will no longer be a tool of the bosses to exploit the workers!

This Ordinance will protect the general New Orleans community. So far, the NOHWA has gathered over 3,000 signatures from workers who support the Ordinance. However, we know that broad community support and collective people’s power is the best and only way to put enough pressure on politicians to pass legislation that helps the workers. The NOHWA has begun to give presentations about the Ordinance and reached out to various community members to call for mass support, as it will benefit the entire community. So far, there has been support from various community organizations, churches, over 30 medical doctors, educators, as well as local lawyers including Bill Quigley of the Loyola Law Clinic. When the new city council members take their places this year, the NOHWA and all of the supporters of the Ordinance will take the next step to get it passed throughout all of New Orleans.

A huge portion of money generated from Tourism taxes goes right into the hands of the city’s wealthiest corporations and business owners all with the politician’s approval, without the people knowing about it. For example, hotel taxes were $165 Million in 2015 alone. Local tax on all food and beverages (without voter approval) were $11.2 Million. It has been written into the city charter that these taxes go directly to private corporations. They are a part of an official commission, including an unelected board. Yes, over $140 million every year goes to big business like the Convention and Visitors Bureau ($17 Million), the LA Stadium and Exposition District ($57 Million), the Exhibition Hall Authority ($58 Million), and the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation ($12 Million). In all, there are over 60 entities that receive money generated by tourism taxes. This is money that does not go into the general budget, does not get put towards bettering our communities, healthcare, or education. With all this money floating around, shouldn’t the workers at least have access to healthcare?

It gets worse. A recent report called the Disparity Study stated that only 2% of revenue generated by business in New Orleans goes to Black Businesses--that’s literally pennies on the dollar going to Black New Orleanians. And, the people in charge of these commissions, work hand-in-hand with the city council and the mayor to do this dirty work. For example, the Board members of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation are from the biggest hotel and casino chains, real estate developers, and from other commissions such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the LA Restaurant Associations, as well as city council members and future mayor Latoya Cantrell, Stacy Head, Nadine Ramsey and Jason Williams. As you can see, big business and government are working closely together to profit while the workers suffer. Although outrageous, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Decisions made by the state legislature are made in favor of big business too. In 2013, the state legislature denied the city a proposal to increase hotel tax by 1.75% for the general budget. One year later in 2014, the state legislature passed an increased hotel tax (you guessed it: 1.75%!) to be dedicated to the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tourism Marketing Corporation. Police of the French Quarter also got a piece: 0.25%. None of these figures talk about the tax breaks and back door deals that happen without the people’s approval or knowledge.

When big businesses and politicians have millions to play with, why are workers left sick, suffering and dying? There is no excuse for this. This year, the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee met a fellow worker named Laura. A mother, a long time hospitality worker. At age 43, Laura hasn’t had insurance for about 2 years.

Why? She couldn’t afford it. This year, she finally went to the hospital to find that she had a severe heart infection that must have been brewing for 5 months to a year, and what happened? She almost got kicked out of the hospital! By some action on behalf of community members and doctors such as Mark-Alan Dery, she was able to stay. However, Laura’s life is in critical condition, and should she survive, she will likely face medical debt. If not, the debt will fall on her family: 6 children. Laura is not the only one in a situation like this; her case is an example for thousands of workers and their families every year. This is why the NOHWA has decided to confront the Tourism Marketing Commission with our demands.

Oregon Fast Food Workers Stand Up!

-By Dylan Borne

“We are fast food workers. We formed our union because we matter, we work hard, we want respect, and we need a raise,” declares the newly-formed Burgerville Workers Union. Burgerville is a fast-food chain in Oregon, and its workers face the exact same daily struggle as hospitality workers here in New Orleans. Paid an average of $11.36/hr, often without being able to go full-time, the company’s employees live in poverty. They don’t have affordable housing, health- or child-care. On top of that, many have to work stressful and unstable schedules. Most of Burgerville’s workers can’t pay Oregon’s soaring rent. Many even go hungry and have to sneak food from their job to survive. Yet the company brings in $75 million in yearly revenue. Divided up by its 1,545 employees, that’s over $48,000 per worker—much more than they’re getting paid. So, Burgerville’s workers decided to stand up. After a two-year campaign, which included striking and calling for a boycott of the company. In April, their Portland location voted to unionize officially under the interna- tional union, ‘Industrial Workers of the World’ (IWW). Quickly followed up by the Gladstone location’s unionization in May. This is big: the nation’s first formal fast food union in 5 years. And this union has teeth, it’s demanding:

A $5/HR RAISE

· AFFORDABLE AND QUALITY HEALTHCARE

· A SAFE WORKPLACE

· FAIR SCHEDULING WITH AMPLE NOTICE

· PAID FAMILY LEAVE

· CHILDCARE

· TRANSPORTATION STIPENDS

· INDEPENDENCE FOR THEIR ORGANIZATION

In response, the well-salaried management has been brutal and two-faced. To the media, they put on a smile: “we are ready to support the nation’s first unionized fast food store,” a senior VP said. But they’ve been ruthless to the workers. Union members and especially organizers have been fired for ridiculous reasons: one for putting a dollop of soft serve in his shift coffee, another for throwing away a leftover chicken patty. One organizer was even set up by his assistant manager, who offered him a bagel without charging him, and then fired him for “stealing” it. But the workers are ready to fight. Despite all the push-back, it’s been one victory after another. It’s a winning struggle for all of them, young or old, mother, father, student, or grandparent. In a recent statement, the Union proclaimed:

“Our struggle is the struggle of all work-

ers, everywhere fighting for a better world.

No worker is isolated, because we form part

of a working class that together can and will

do anything. Workers have all the power, and

we demonstrated that, and continue to, with

this union victory and our march forward.”

For more info, go to: www.BurgervilleWorkersUnion.org

Who is the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance?

The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee is an organization created by and for hospitality workers. We fights for our long over-due 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 88,000 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 co workers. We understand our bosses use tactics that weaponize forms of discrimination to further divide workers, we must stand firm against these divisive tactics. The committee respects black, brown, women, and LGBTQ workers and welcomes them to take on leadership in the organization. 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.