Nearly 5,000 people from in and around the San Diego Community participated in the October 5th March for Dignity and Respect, part of a nationwide effort to push congress to pass comprehensive and humane immigration reform. Unite Here Local 30 made their presence known at this rally, as they are especially passionate since the overwhelming majority of its members are immigrants.
Earlier this year, Local 30 and its members rallied against the Tarsadia owned Hilton Mission Valley and went on a very public hunger strike in front of the hotel when Tarsadia opted to weaponize the EVerify system in an effort to disrupt the hotel worker’s efforts to unionize. Tarsadia had fired 9 undocumented, long time hotel workers who were fighting for respect, dignity, and justice. Hence, they were know in the media as the San Diego Nine.
On October 5th, Local 30 members sought to remember those workers of the San Diego Nine and to demonstrate their commitment to the fight for the dignity and respect of all immigrant workers.
Last week was the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was murdered in Memphis where he had gone to support striking sanitation workers. As I noted in my column for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in January, the real MLK is frequently neglected in favor of a distorted picture of a vanilla saint who just wanted us all to get along. Nothing could be further from the truth.
SAN DIEGO – Hotel workers and their allies launched a five-day hunger strike on Friday, April 5 to protest the unfair use of E-verify by the Hilton Mission Valley, amid hotel workers’ year-long effort to organize a union.
The sudden use of E-verify came in late March when a new management company took over the hotel and voluntarily subjected the hotel workers to the system. Hotel workers, clergy and community activists rallied at the launch of the hunger strike on Friday calling the hotel’s plan to fire the nine long-time hotel employees who the system flagged unfair.
Hotel managers told the nine employees they had until Monday, April 8 or Tuesday, April 9 to fix problems with paperwork or face termination.
“We can’t stand by as immigrant workers face firing after being subjected to the flawed and unfair E-Verify system.” said Brigette Browning, President of UNITE HERE Local 30. “This hunger strike highlights that these workers and their families deserve the same opportunities to work and the same respect as all of San Diego’s working families, and the community stands with them and all immigrant workers who face unfair treatment.”
Among those joining the hunger strikers to launch the action on Friday were Congressman Scott Peters, State Senator Ben Hueso, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, San Diego Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez, Reverend Beth Johnson from the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, and immigrant rights leader Christian Ramirez. Hunger strikers and threatened workers were joined later in the afternoon by incoming San Diego Unified School Superintendent Cindy Marten and SDUSD School Board members Richard Barrera and Marne Foster.
Events and actions will be continuing through 12 p.m. on Tuesday, including visits to the Hilton Mission Valley by Congressman Juan Vargas at 10 a.m. on Saturday to discuss progress on federal immigration reform efforts, a community solidarity rally with Mayor Bob Filner Sunday at 1 p.m., and a candlelight vigil Monday evening at 7 p.m.
Additional updates on events and special guests are being posted via the Twitter hashtag #sandiegonine and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/121946677997953/122749167917704/
Watch the video
Twenty hotel workers were arrested on March 1 at the HEI-owned and managed Hilton Mission Valley. Nearly 250 hotel workers, community activists and clergy members protested job insecurity at the hotel. HEI has announced that it is selling the Hilton Mission Valley to Tarsadia Investments. HEI informed workers of the potential of mass layoffs when Tarsadia takes over later this month. More layoffs are bad for San Diego and bad for California. Click here to see more photos of the action.
On December 11th, nine Local 30 members completed the shop steward training program and were certified by the union. The program consisted of three three-hour training sessions. Participants learned contract enforcement and organizing skills.
The new stewards will be active at the Hyatt Mission Bay, Westin Gaslamp, and Kona Kai hotels, and the Convention Center.