Issue #9 A Call to Action

International Working Women’s Day Call To Action!

March 16th, 2019 Congo Square, 701 N Rampart St, New Orleans 2pm

WOMEN HOSPITALITY WORKERS DECLARE: “WE’RE FED UP AND WE’RE ORGANIZING FOR OURSELVES & OUR FAMILIES. RETURN $180 MILLION IN TOURIST TAX DOLLARS TO THE PEOPLE”

We cannot just invest in streets and neglect investing in the people. We must do BOTH. We cannot just ask for the return of SOME of the our stolen tax dollars, we must DEMAND the return of it ALL.

The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance and The New Orleans People’s Assembly are inviting all working women, organizations, social clubs, unions, and faith-based institutions to join us that day. We cannot depend on the politicians in New Orleans or Baton Rouge, we must mobilize a movement to demand our rights. All workers, women and men, can get involved. Contact us at: workingwomenofnola@gmail.com

Fellow working women -- cooks, re- tail workers, pedicab drivers, bartenders, maids, working moth- ers -- International Working Women’s Day is OUR day! Let us take to the streets for International Working Women’s Day on March 16th!

We Demand The $180 million a year in stolen taxes Go to:

•$20 million to fully fund all early childhood education

•$50 million for sick, mater- nity leave, vacation pay and pension fund for hospitality workers

•$50 million go into health coverage for all hospitality workers

•$40 million go to fully fund- ed, free, accessible child care centers

•$20 million be used for infra- structure like fixing streets

San Francisco Hotel Workers Strike, Win Raises and Job Protections

Starting in October of last year, over 7,700 housekeepers, bartenders, servers, cooks, and other Marriott workers nationwide walked off the job for months. Working women, Black workers, and immigrant workers led the struggle. They demanded better pay and working conditions, and their movement reached San Diego, Oakland, San Jose, Boston, Detroit, Maui, Oahu, and San Francisco. This past December, the strike wave ended with San Francisco workers at seven locations closing a deal with Marriott.

UNITE HERE, the union representing these workers,

released a statement saying the deal was the best in San Francisco hotel history. It included:

•An extra $1.75/hour for every paycheck the workers have gotten since August

•Guaranteed raises for the next four years

•Protection for workers’ health plans

•More contributions to workers’ pensions

•Panic buttons that can call for help if workers get sexually harassed or assaulted in isolated locations

“We are on strike because one job should be enough!” said housekeeper Larrilou Carumba. “I’m the mother of three kids, and my job isn’t enough for me to take care of my kids. If I have to work two jobs, I don’t have time to take care of my kids or myself.”

The nationwide strike slogan, “one job should be enough,” resonates with hospitality workers in New Orleans. Hotel and restaurant owners pay their employees so little that many of us have no choice but to work 2, 3 or even 4 jobs to survive. Meanwhile, Marriott rolled in $1.4 billion in profits last year. They’re trying to squeeze as much money out of people as they can, whether or not workers have to suffer from it. But unionized Marriott workers across the country didn’t stand for that. They’ve shown that when workers fight back together, workers win.

¡Día internacional de la mujer trabajadora, llamada a la acción!

-Por skye thomas

Las mujeres de la clase trabajadora se enfrentan a la lucha por la licencia de maternidad, el cuidado de niños y los salarios dignos! Mujeres trabajadoras: cocineras, minoristas, camareras, meseras, madres trabajadoras: ¡El Día Internacional de las Mujeres Trabajadoras es su día! ¡Tomemos las calles para el Día Internacional de la Mujer Trabajadora el 16 de marzo! Este dia preguntamos: ¿Cuáles son las condiciones de la gran mayoría de las mujeres? Nosotras, las que somos ignoradas y sobrecargadas de trabajo. El Día Internacional de la Mujer Trabajadora (IWWD) se estableció para conmemorar la huelga de 13 semanas en el año 1909 dirigida por mujeres jóvenes que trabajaban en las maquiladoras en la ciudad de Nueva York. Esta huelga se llamó “el levantamiento de las 20,000.” Este levantamiento provocó cinco años de revuelta que transformó la industria. Para honrar esta lucha, Clara Zetkin, una organizadora de los derechos de las mujeres, propuso el Día Internacional de las Mujeres Trabajadoras en la Conferencia Internacional de Mujeres en 1910. El IWWD fue creado para honrar las luchas de las mujeres de clase trabajadora y establecer la conexión entre la lucha obrera y la lucha contra la opresión de las mujeres. La Asamblea Popular de Nueva Orleans (People’s Assembly) y la Alianza de Trabajadores de la Hospitalidad de Nueva Orleans han hecho un llamado a nuestras compañeras trabajadoras para que se unan a nosotros mientras nos organizamos para el IWWD. ¡Celebramos reuniones semanales de la Coalición de Mujeres, así como la Cena de Mujeres el primer miércoles de cada mes! ¡Invitamos a todas las trabajadoras a unirse a nosotros en estos días!

Por favor, envíenos un correo electrónico para obtener más detalles workingwomenofnola@gmail.com

Bourbon To Go Bar Slashes Wages; Tips are Unlivable

Tourists come from all the over the world to visit Spirits on Bourbon—a combined restaurant/bar famous for their feature on the television show Bar Rescue. After working at this place for one month as a server, I was suddenly scheduled to work the To-Go Bar. This part of the tightly spaced restaurant faces Bourbon Street, and has a small section dedicated to serving alcohol for folks in need of a quick drink onthe-go. There are some noticeable differences between the main bar and the To-Go Bar at Spirits. The main bar stretches out nearly half the length of the restaurant and offers a good variety of alcoholic beverages while the To-Go Bar is basically a small booth serving a limited number of bottled beers along with two specialty drinks. I wasn’t looking forward to the change, as it was understood that the To-Go Bar was not a lucrative or engaging opportunity. I also learned that servers scheduled for it were earning less than half of what the servers at the To-Go bar used to make. According to Catelyn Savarese, a former employee at Spirits, they used to earn more than double the current wage (~$2.13/hourly) when working this booth:

“When I started it was $5 [per hour] and when we got our checks it would supposedly be on there, but some new girl decided she was gonna double dip and get paid twice. They took that $5 away from us and never told us nothing until we noticed things changing.”

We don’t know why management cut our pay in half, but it seemed like a convenient excuse on their end to further profit off of our already underpaid labor. The change in our wages forced us as employees to be even more reliant on tips to help us meet our living needs, which never really worked out. At the To-Go Bar, we could earn as little as $5 in tips during a 10-hour shift and unfortunately many of us servers were scheduled to spend 8-10 hours of our work week there. With the $2.13 wage that makes a grand total of $26.30, a disheartening sum to bring home after a long night’s work. To my dismay, not a single coworker felt they could bring these issues to management for fear of being let go.

Certain managers who still work at Spirits highlight the enthusiasm of previous To-Go Bar servers, drawing direct correlations between their energy and earnings, but these stories felt like an insult to our intelligence. A server like myself, a young, vivacious woman that actively attracted customers averaged around $60-$75 on busy nights which is more than what most typically earn. Even during special events when Bourbon St. is swarmed with drunk tourists, the To-Go Bar hardly ever breaks $100 dollars in tips. Earning less than $3 per hour with downtrodden expectations of not earning enough in tips clearly encourages no one to express interest in their work, yet management continues to expect us to behave as if we weren’t struggling with unlivable wages. To this day, not a single server has expressed that the To-Go Bar is a constructive and worthy use of their time and I don’t imagine they ever will.

We as servers in this specific line of the hospitality industry understand that we’ve inherited an occupation that fails to adequately compensate our service, but in a situation like this the sense of exploitation cuts a little deeper. After a long night of tiring one’s voice and standing for hours on end without permission to sit on a bar stool, still not knowing whether or not we can afford to feed ourselves and our families weighs heavy. The simplest, ethical step for management to take would be to offer livable wages for all employees at Spirits. And if this isn’t feasible, then eliminating the To-Go Bar would certainly be the next best step. The only way for this to happen is for people to speak up and use their collective power to force change when faced with this kind of injustice. When our needs and concerns are met not just as employees, but as individuals deserving the right to livable wages— only then will our own spirits will be lifted.

The Worst Boss Ever

-Chadé Bibbins

I was working at Café Negril, which was SUPPOSED to be this little Jamaican joint. It was a hole in the wall with live music, which I loved! I loved working weekends, because those were reggae nights, on Fridays my favorite band played, and I was the cook they were always giving shoutouts to. I quit that job in November because of one person. My boss.

Her name is Chrissy Benoit. Just saying her name makes me want to punch a hole in a wall. When she interviewed me, she seemed so sweet and easy to work with. But don’t let her innocent acts fool you. She is like a little demon dog from hell! First, let me say she doesn’t know how to run a kitchen. This lady was SUPPOSED to make Jamaican food. She had us making tacos, nachos, pizza, po-boys, empanadas, tamales!! What type of Jamaican place serves strictly Latino dishes? Jamaican people would come in and ask me why do we have a Jamaican name? I could only shake my head and tell them I’m just the cook.

She once left all of us (my coworkers and I) for two weeks to go have fun in Florida. There were no other kitchen managers. We had one supervisor but we were all still training! When she left nothing was stocked. We kept running out of supplies. We couldn’t cook most of the menu items because we were out of ingredients. But if any of us workers couldn’t come into work because we were sick or it was our mother’s birthday, she would yell and even threaten to fire us.

She disrespected me and all other Black people. We were listening to music and it had some explicit content to it. Let me add that Chrissy is a white lady of Hispanic descent. She goes to say that all my co-worker Earl would listen to is songs with curse words in them. She says these songs always say “Nigga Nigga Nigga” and then she calls us Niggers with a smile on her face while laughing. It was disgusting how she smiled like nothing she said was wrong. That image is burned into my mind forever.

My mom was extremely sick and I came late to work because I couldn’t leave her in the house by herself. I had to wait until my father and brother came home. She told the supervisor that she was done with me and I can “stand there and cry all she wants”. She didn’t care and let me cry while washing the dishes. Since then, I heard two people have quit. No boss should continue to have a job after doing all that. If this woman did not work here, it would be a semi-decent place. They should serve real Jamaican food. She should be fired for her mistreatment and abuse of us workers!

HOSPITALITY WORKERS THOUGHTS ON MARDI GRAS

This month, while we are waiting for this upcoming Mardi Gras season with fingers crossed that we’ll make some extra money, we wanted to reach out to our fellow Hospitality Workers. While thousands will come to the city and treat it like adult Disneyland, we wanted to hear from our coworkers about their experiences during carnival. Here are what just some had to say:

“Mardi Gras season is awesome money. The sights you see are some of the most entertaining things. But it’s still a giant inconvenience. There is never anywhere to park and public transportation is always late. You have to go work early, stay late, and the later it gets the more bullshit you have to deal with” -Megan Renae, server “I have been working in the quarter for 10 years and each year it’s the same thing around Mardi Gras. How am I going to get to and from work on time? The streets are blocked, they don’t have much parking available, and on top of that Lyfts and Ubers are higher around this time of year. I would love for the city to come together and have a system in plan for the people that’s working hard to make sure the city’s tourists are having the best time ever” -Bene’a, server and bartender

“Mardi Gras makes me wish more than ever that we our workplaces had zero tolerance sexual harassment policies. There’s so many people who are drunk and beyond—everywhere is crowded and so there’s just this chaotic energy where tourists feel like they can do whatever they want.” -anonymous server

BILL OF RIGHTS BOX

The Hospitality Workers Alliance is comprised of hospitality industry workers that are organizing for respectful treatment, living wages and equal resources for all hospitality workers in New Orleans. Below is our Bill of Rights which we dutifully stand by and promote for present and future hospitality workers.

1. Parking and Public Transportation: Employees are either provided with a free parking spot that is a close, safe distance away from the workplace or with a voucher for public transportation. Public transportation will be reliable and running at times when workers are going to and from work.

2. Wages: Employees are able to make a livable base wage of $15 an hour.

3. Breaks: Employees are able to take a paid break if they want.

4. Affordable Childcare and Maternity Leave: Employers will provide affordable childcare to employees who have children. Mothers will receive paid maternity leave and are guaranteed reemployment.

5. Sick Pay: Every worker is guaranteed paid sick days without retaliation.

6. Meals: Employers must provide their employees with a balanced, healthy meal free of cost.

7. Scheduling and Hours: Employees are given a predictable weekly schedule and the option of either parttime or full-time work.

8. Harassment: