Alma Romero, one of the San Diego Nine by Nadin Abbott
April 13, 2013 (San Diego)-- Why are workers at not just the San Diego Mission Valley Hilton going on strike, or fighting for better working conditions? Today I learned, that this is a larger fight, and includes the La Jolla Hilton.
I had the chance to sit down with Alma Romero, who is not just one of the huger strikers, but also one of the Union organizing effort. According to Romero, "this campaign started a year ago." It was not accidental.
Working conditions at the hotel have deteriorated over the years, with an environment of fear enveloping the work place. Moreover, workers do not feel they are being treated in a humane way.
For example, House keepers who work for the hotel, "are offered at most three days a week of work," while employees that the hotel hires through an agency get upwards of six days and better pay. House keepers get eight dollars an hour, while the contracted labor gets paid nine.
It gets worst, Romero said that "they are not documented workers."
There is quite a bit of verbal abuse of workers, they have no benefits, such as medical insurance.
The campaign started when HEI was the hotel owner. We need to explain that just because a hotel says Marriot or Westin outside, they are not necessarily the owners, but licensees. For the record, HEI bought the hotel from local owners over eight years ago.
The struggle to form a Union started when HEI was in charge, but recently they have sold out to Evolution, based in Long Beach.
According to Romero, Evolution just used E-Verify to try to get rid of problem employees, "we have talked to the agency housekeepers, and the majority are not documented." This is the reason that Romero decided to go on this hunger strike.
Moreover, "The movement to bring in the Union, is what led to people being dismissed. They used E-Verify to try to stop the movement."
As written yesterday, according to Lorena Gonzalez of the Central Labor Council, and other leaders, this is exactly the case.