Arrested When You Least Expect It

Hi, my name is Dani and I am an OBB intern at Local 2 in San Francisco. This summer I have been helping Unite Here and the workers at the HEI-operated Le Meridien Hotel.  Through meeting with workers I have learned about the differences between unionized and non-union hotels, and what it is like to work for a company that uses intimidation, harassment and other manipulative tactics to exploit the labor of these hard-working people.

In one situation, a manager at the hotel had refused to pool tips with the bussers and was pocketing most of the tips that the customers paid.  Early one Saturday morning we leafleted customers outside of the hotel, informing them of this egregious activity. The manager came out and unknowingly the other intern who was with us leafleted him asking:  “Sir, did you know a manager at this hotel is taking money from his employees?” The manager turned red, walked back inside of the hotel and called the cops. They arrested the three of us but only handcuffed me for some unknown reason. The next day the manager announced he was leaving.

Ousting this manager was a small victory and yet an important moment for Local 2. After we were arrested I met with Baltazar, who works as a busser. Only after we spoke did I come to understand what our collective struggle is about.  He articulated for me the most egregious crimes of this manager and the hotel in general. I don’t think I realized how bad working conditions in hotels could be until I took the opportunity to listen to these workers.

– Dani, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Francisco

Oakland Airport Delegation

3 weeks ago, non-union food service workers from the Oakland Airport collectively delegated their bosses and demanded a fair process to decide whether they want union representation. Watching these workers whom I’ve grown to know and admire has been such an experience for me. Workers at concessions such as Subway, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, See’s Candies, and Jamba Juice etc. have been treated poorly by their bosses.  Examples of conditions that workers face include a lack of overtime pay, no steady work schedule, and pay below the Port of Oakland’s Living Wage standard. Over the past weeks, I’ve seen women emerge as leaders in their workplace. These women have been taking the lead among their coworkers and stand as examples of strength for their families. During committee meetings, I see the same strength in these women as I see in my own mother and it inspires me to continue to fight with them for justice. In the past few weeks, our campaign has held actions at the Oakland Airport and the Port of Oakland with union members from the airport, UNITE HERE! supporters and other local unions like the SEIU. Between UNITE HERE! Organizers, nonunion workers, and the Host union workers at the airport, we all push each other forward and remind each other why we’re fighting. Some days are more difficult than others but every day is a step closer to winning.

– Sofia , 2012 Summer Organizer, Oakland

Top Photo: On July 12th, union and non-union workers from the Oakland airport unite with OBBers to tell the Port of Oakland Commissioners, “We need Justice Now!” Non-union workers went public with their campaign to demand a fair process to determine whether they want to organize a union 2 weeks ago!

Bottom Photo: On July 6th, 150 workers from all over the Oakland airport from UNITE HERE Local 2850 and other unions along with OBBers and volunteers have our first rally to demand justice at the airport!

Occupy Monterey

I’m Erika, a student at California State University Monterey Bay and an Intern at Local 483 in Monterey. There are currently many fights our local area is immersed in, and in the middle  of it there are days when we feel the need to engage in communal settings where we come together for broader discussions of bringing about ‘change’. OCCUPY MONTEREY held a community rally and potluck picnic with the central theme, “Corporations are NOT People Nor Is Their Money Free Speech”. The event was sponsored andattended by several organizations including: Alliance for Democracy/Move to Amend, the Green Party, Veterans for Peace, Occupy Monterey Peninsula. Three interns and 3 staff members from our local attended the event. We explored ideas for getting corporations out of our public sphere. We all deserve the peace and equity that is derived from a democracy “of, by and for the PEOPLE.” – Erika, 2012 Summer Organizer, Monterey

San Diego UFC Delegation

“The delegation was an opportunity that brought to life the UFC petition we had been asking people to sign. The recruiter we spoke with seemed surprised by what we had to say and was receptive of the information.” – Victoria, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

“The delegation was a good learning experience. We saw how delegations work and although the Marine recruiter we saw was really receptive, I know delegations won’t always go so smoothly.” – Esteban, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

Above Photo (L-R): 2012 San Diego Summer Organizers: Victoria, Esteban, and Minerva.

Voter Registration Campaign in Phoenix

Over fifty leaders from around the West Coast and New Mexico brought their fire to Phoenix this weekend, pushing the intensity of our fight against the climate of fear in Arizona—home of SB 1070—to new heights. Clothed in red shirts and burning with se-puede spirit, we registered hundreds of new voters who will stand together this November to unseat the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio and continue to build the political voice of the Latino and immigrant community.

On Saturday, we went to the lavish and exploitative non-union hotel resorts of Scottsdale with the goal of registering workers there to vote. General managers responded to our wish of expanding civic engagement with anger, hatred, and fear. But their responses only united and fueled us all to fight even harder on Sunday, when we registered even more voters and challenged people in churches, parks, and shopping centers to stand up and build power in their communities. Finally, on Mondamorning, we delegated the Hyatt Scottsdale, where workers have been publicly demanding a fair process to decide on  unionization for nearly two years.

There, worker leaders from the Hyatt in Santa-Clara reminded their former general manager that he cannot hide — workers everywhere are united in fighting for respect and safety in the workplace.

For me, the success of the weekend was a testament to what can happen when people join together in struggle and realize their power—even for a short time. In total, we registered nearly 400 people to vote during the weekend and added to what the team on the ground had already accomplished in the week to arrive at a total of 1,047 new registered voters in one week!  “Adios Arpaio” is not just our slogan, it is a reality that we have the power to create. I’m so proud to be part of Unite Here’s work, and I’m thankful to have met so many fierce leaders who will inspire me far into the future to keep fighting.

Gabrielle, 2012 Summer Organizer, Phoenix


“My trip to Arizona to volunteer with the local in Phoenix as well as the Adios Arpaio campaign was a very memorable experience. It was inspiring to see so many people united for a cause and working very hard in order to make create real changes in Arizona that will impact many people. I was amazed to learn that the campaign to register voters in Phoenix started in April, and would be continuing up through the elections in November. The people who are registering voters spend several hours each day canvassing in extreme heat, but they do it with a smile on their face because they know how crucial it is to register voters and that the stakes in this election are very high. It is exhausting work, and I have nothing but admiration for the people in Arizona who continue with this hard work, day after day, despite the harsh weather conditions and often negative response from citizens in Arizona. The trip to Arizona made me understand even more deeply how this situation effects real people and destroys families. It made all the news reports and stories of police harassment much more real to me, and as a result I am planning on returning to Arizona in the fall in order to help out with the final get out the vote push before the
election.” Esteban, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

“I had never canvassed before, so it was a challenging yet really motivating experience to push people to register to vote. I was inspired by all those who canvass in Arizona every day and by all the hard work they have done in their efforts to get Arpaio out of the Sheriff position.” Victoria, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

“My visit to Arizona was a huge eye opener for me. It made me get out of my comfort zone and go out there and try to make a difference. It was the first time I canvassed and spent hours trying to get people to register to vote. There were a lot of older citizens that seem to love what Sheriff Joe Arpaio is doing which disappointed me a lot. And it is unfortunate that those who really want Arpaio out of office are not able to vote because they are undocumented. Even though it was a huge challenge to find those who wanted him out and could register to vote, we were able to reach our goal.” – Duceani, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

First Photo: Inside the Monte Lucia, the Summer Organizers were asking to be able to register the workers at this non-union hotel to vote.

Second Photo: The Summer Organizers learning about the connections between hospitality industry employers and Sherriff Arpaio.

Third Photo: Voter registration inside WalMart: The only appropriate use of a shopping cart in WalMart is to be able to do voter registration!

Fourth Photo: San Diego Summer Organizers (L-R: Esteban, Duceani and Ashley) getting ready to register voters in
the Phoenix neighborhoods.

Fifth Photo: Group Photo.

Sixth Photo: Doing voter registration in the Phoenix neighborhoods. “Gotta go, Joe!”

Los Angeles UFC Delegation

“The Marine delegations were a powerful experience for me since my dad is a Navy Veteran, and one of the delegations we did was to a Navy Recruiting center next door to a Marine Recruiting center. When learning about the UFC’s president’s and top fighters behavior and the things they have said, I realized why my dad had always said he wanted sons and what he fought to protect me, his baby girl, from. And I wanted to protect his honor from the UFC’s use of the armed forces for their reputation, despite my own feelings towards the military.”

–         Ruth, 2012 Summer Organizer, Los Angeles

Photo to the Left: Summer Organizer Ruth delivering petitions to a Marines Recruiting Officer. (L-R): Erica (OBB), Jessica (OBB), Miguel (OBB), Kayla (OBB), Ruth (OBB), Victor (Volunteer), Jesus (OBB), and Eva (Volunteer).