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San Diego Nine go on Hunger Strike.

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Nadin Abbott

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Photos Nadin Abbott

April 5, 2013. (San Diego)--Today nine San Diego Workers went on a five day hunger strike. These San Diego Workers, are protesting what Lorena Gonzalez of the Central Labor Council calls "union busting practices."

This is not the first time something like this happens when workers try to organize. Last year over a thousand Janitors attempted to organize in San Diego, and the company they worked for suddenly discovered E-Verify. This is the same at the Hilton in Mission Valley. This is not being done by the hotel to check on the migratory status of workers, but as a tool to suppress the efforts of workers to organize.

In her view E-Verify is used "as a weapon to intimidate workers."

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Virginia Martinez, one of the San Diego Nine
(Image by Nadin Abbott)
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Virginia Martinez, one of the San Diego Nine by Nadin Abbott

One of these striking workers is Virginia Martinez. Martinez told the media gaggle that came for the presser that she had "ten years working in this country. I love this country. With this job I've sent three daughters to University, and maintain my elderly mother. I was told that as of April 9, I am out of the team." She added, "we are the workers who do the heavy work."

Later Martinez told me that she is a housekeeper. The hotel wants her to clean sixteen rooms in eight hours. That is one room every half hour. This means making the bed, cleaning the bathroom, sweeping and vacuuming." "They want one person to do the job of two or three people."

She also told me that Local 30 of Unite Here is supporting the strikers. In fact, a few of the Strikers were from Unite Here.

She was also glad to see that "The Central Labor Council is supporting us, as well as politicians, who understand our suffering."


San Diego School Member Richard Barrera
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San Diego School Member Richard Barrera by Nadin Abbott

When San Diego School Member Richard Barrera came to the microphone he told the Press Gaggle that at times companies do what they do in the shadows. "this comes into the light in our communities." He added, that the kids have been on Spring Break and they are coming back to school on Monday. Some of them, "will come back to school after their parents lose their jobs. This disrupts our classrooms."

According to Barrera the San Diego Unified School District serves one hundred thirty thousand children. "We don't check who is documented or not, but two thirds live under the poverty line. Their parents are working low wage jobs."

He also said that "the number one factor to success in school is poverty." Moreover, the Title One programs, used by the school district to teach these kids are being cut due to the Sequester to the tune of four million dollars. They are also losing Head Start Funds, and will not be able to fund one hundred slots.

Due to poverty, the School District is also seeing low level malnutrition. Two thirds of the students qualify for the Enhanced Lunch Program. This means that these kids qualify for both breakfast and lunch. This also means that on Fridays, those children have had the last good meal they will see, and by Monday they are very hungry since they have struggled all weekend. When they return from Spring Break, many of those kids have really struggled.

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Writer, blogger, journalist, based in San Diego. Started doing this with Occupy and has grown from there. As a trained historian I was struck by Occupy, which will be considered an important moment in US History, at leaset in my opinion.

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