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Labor Speaks Out Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Presidential Pardon

Image by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, President Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio who was convicted for violating people’s civil rights in his anti-immigrant crusade.

“The criminal conviction grew out of a lawsuit filed a decade ago charging that the sheriff’s office regularly violated the rights of Latinos, stopping people based on racial profiling, detaining them based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally and turning them over to the immigration authorities”, reported the New York Times.

“Joe Arpaio terrorized and harassed Hispanic workers, regardless of immigration status, for the six terms he served as Sheriff,” said UNITE HERE in a written statement. “Under him, illegal racial profiling of law abiding citizens ran rampant in the most populated county in Arizona, and he institutionalized systematic discrimination against Hispanic workers across Phoenix that included frequent violations of the U.S. constitution.  UNITE HERE is proud to have challenged his election multiple cycles with the “Adios Arpaio” campaign focused around activating Hispanic voters in Maricopa County – voters who ultimately threw Arpaio out of public office last November.”

UNITE HERE’s represents 270,000 workers mainly in the hotel, restaurant, gaming industry. Their membership is quite diverse and includes some “undocumented” immigrants.  UNITE HERE negotiates into their contracts some protections for workers who are waiting to gain legal citizenship.

“Donald Trump’s pardon of convicted criminal Joe Arpaio is an attack on immigrants writ large, and shows Trump’s support for Arpaio’s illegal practices. With a dozen TPS expirations looming in the next year and the fate of DACA at imminent risk, we are deeply troubled that Trump is pardoning criminals and sympathizing with racial bigots instead of protecting the law abiding, tax-paying immigrant workers on those programs who make the American economy run, and make this country truly great,” UNITE HERE added.

The United Farm Workers, were quick to condemn Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio.

“We are extremely disappointed with President Trump. He has consistently shown no respect for the hardworking immigrants of this nation,” said the United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez. “His pardoning of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is shameful. Time and again, immigrants have demonstrated that they are the backbone of agriculture and many other industries. The President should not be pardoning someone who has been so vicious towards immigrants and who has openly flouted a federal judge’s order to stop his racial discrimination.”

“President Trump didn’t just pardon a thug and a criminal, he undermined the rule of law and betrayed the basic norms of our democracy just to hype up his base. Democrats and Republicans alike, including Sen. John McCain and even right-wing members of Congress, have condemned this action because Trump’s blatant abuse of power undermines the dignity of the office of the presidency and tears at the fabric of a just and fair democracy built on the rule of law for all,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker in a written statement.

Even Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) blasted Trump for using his Presidential Pardon authority to pardon Arpaio.

“No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold. Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders. The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party summed it up perfectly by saying:

“His pardon is a wink and a nod to law enforcement around the country that, if you discriminate against and abuse people unlawfully, you will be rescued from prison by the President of the United States. There is no justification for Trump’s pardon and anyone who tries to defend it is defending criminal discrimination with clear eyes.”

This pardon is just political payback for all that Arpaio has done for Trump during his campaign, adding another notch in his already corrupt administration.

Why Everyone Should Be A Fair Hotel Partner

If you are like me, when you travel you try to spend your money in a responsible way that helps the people of the community you are visiting. I like to eat at small “mom and pop” restaurants and to stay at a union hotel whenever I can.

We all know that workers in union hotels have strong workplace protections, benefits, and are usually paid a little better. Which is important to support these union hotels.

Unite HERE is one of the fastest growing unions in the country. They have organized over 8,000 workers this year alone. Unite HERE has been organizing restaurant, hotel, and service industry workers all across the country.

Nelson Lucero works the Starbucks counter inside one of Las Vegas’s biggest hotels. He is a proud member of the Culinary Union local 226. I asked him why him why he chose to be in the union? He said, “I want to make sure that my generation has the opportunity to provide for our families. After 5 years I have a pension, healthcare, and paid vacation.”

Union workers in Las Vegas, like Nelson, earn on average $3,580 more per year than their non-union counterparts. In Boston, a union housekeeper makes on average $10 an hour more than their non-union housekeeper in Miami. This does not include their benefit package that consists of a pension, paid vacation and sick time, and comprehensive healthcare for their entire family with no monthly premium.Aside from the usual protections that come with being a union member, Unite HERE is blazing a new path forward with additional protections for their largely immigrant workforce. They are working with employers to put language into their contracts to protect “undocumented” workers from deportation.

They have also worked with employers combat sexual harassment in the workplace and to increase the safety of housekeepers.  Unite HERE has negotiated in some of their recent contracts to have “panic buttons” installed in every hotel room.  So far over 30 hotels have installed these panic buttons and Unite HERE is pushing a ballot initiative in Chicago to mandate panic buttons in all area hotels. A similar ballot measure passed in Seattle last November.

Unite HERE is also helping their members live better lives. “We just opened a new health clinic that is free for members,” said Bethany Kahn, Communications Director for the Culinary Union local 226.

The health and welfare of their members is part of the reason that the Culinary Union help push through SB 265, a bill that protects people from rapid increases in their Diabetes medications.

“Our members phone banked for 15-20 minutes during their lunch break, and did door to door canvases on the weekends,” explained Kahn.

Even after “Big Pharma” hired an army of high priced lobbyist to kill this bill, the bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Sandoval.

Now, Unite HERE is making it easier for you to support their organizing efforts and to stay at a union hotel with their free, Fair Hotel app. The app makes it easy to choose a union hotel in your destination city.
(Download the Fair Hotel app from Itunes or the Google Play store)

 

The app is only a small part of Unite Here’s Fair Hotel campaign. The best part is for businesses and organization that are planning events and conventions.

Fair Hotel recommends model protective contract language for its partners that can protect events from possible labor disputes The Fair Hotel representative contacts the hotel’s local union representative to make sure there is no current or upcoming labor issues at the hotel. This will ensure that your event attendees will not have to cross a picket line to get to their hotel.

This contract language means that the hotel must notify you within ten days if a labor dispute does arise. In the unfortunate event that a labor dispute does arise the contract language allows you to move, change or cancel your event at no cost. This puts added pressure on the hotels to ensure labor harmony or lose what could be millions of dollars in sales when the convention packs up and leaves

So, you are probably saying, where do I sign up?

Go to ww.FairHotel.Org and sign up to become a Fair Hotel partner. Netroots Nation, LiUNA, Interfaith Worker Justice, and Pride at Work are few of the over 100 Fair Hotel partners.

You can rest easy staying at a Fair Hotel

 

AFSC-NH’s Testimony Against SB 11, “Right To Work”

Statement on SB 11, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union

January 10, 2017 

I am Arnie Alpert, Co-Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program. I am also a member of UNITE-HERE Local 66L and the UNITE-HERE New England Joint Board. I am pleased to be able to appear before you today both as a union member and as a representative of my employer to urge your rejection of the so-called “right to work” bill.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that turns 100 years old this year. Throughout almost our entire history, going back to 1922 when we provided humanitarian assistance to unemployed coal miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, we have assisted working people who have sought to better their lives and working conditions. In 1936, a year after President Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act, the AFSC Social-Industrial Section drafted a statement “on the attitude that the AFSC should take towards organized labor.” The statement noted, in part:

Collective bargaining by groups of workers with employers is therefore desirable in order that workers may meet management on something like equal terms when they bargain for rates of pay, conditions of work, and security of employment.

Since then, from the textile mills of North Carolina to the orange groves of Florida to the grape fields of California, to the maquiladora factories along the Mexican border, and in countless kitchens and construction sites, the AFSC has stood with people who have sought employment, living wages, and dignity on the job.

The ability of working people to attain a decent standard of living is threatened in our country and in our state. According to the NH Housing Finance Authority, the statewide median rent of a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire was $1206 in 2016. That means it takes an income of more than $48,000 a year to afford a typical apartment. That’s more than three times what a worker makes at the current minimum wage.

If the purpose of SB 11 was to provide jobs at decent wages so that working people could afford decent housing, we would be enthusiastic about it. But what is called “right to work” is not about ensuring that all people have the right to a decent job. To the contrary, it is about undermining the ability of working people to organize among themselves and bargain collectively with their employers.

By making it more difficult for workers to organize, “right to work” would force down the wage levels of all working people in New Hampshire. The ability to afford health care would be threatened. The ability to pay taxes to support schools would be diminished. The state’s housing crisis would intensify. More people would seek public assistance.

Over the years, in this country and around the world, the American Friends Service Committee has observed that strong unions help their members better their wages and working conditions, but also can be powerful advocates for human rights and a better standard of living for everyone.

If you are interested in reducing poverty and giving more people access to decent jobs, you should recommend this bill inexpedient to legislate.

UNITE HERE Endorses Hillary Clinton for President of the United States

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UNITE HERE is an organization representing 270,000 working people across North America. Our membership is diverse. We are predominantly women and people of color, and we hail from all corners of the planet.

Over the course of the last three decades, the women and men of UNITE HERE have negotiated hundreds of contracts with their employers in the hospitality industry.

In those negotiated contracts, workers sacrificed billions of dollars in wage increases in order to build, maintain and fund the best and most affordable family health care in America.

The federal government now has decided to impose an excise tax on those health benefits.  The government wants these working families to pay again for what they have already paid for.

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton is committed to work with us and members of the House and Senate in the United States Congress to end this double-payment scheme written into the Affordable Care Act by the insurance industry.

Most impressively, we did not have to ask Hillary Clinton to take this position.  Indeed, it is just a reflection of her decades-long commitment to affordable health care for working families.

Hillary Clinton has also been a staunch advocate for immigrant families. She has called for comprehensive immigration reform and defended President Obama’s executive actions providing deportation relief to millions. She has pledged to go one step further, committing to end family detention, close immigrant detention centers and help more eligible people become naturalized. For the tens of thousands immigrant workers our Union represents in Nevada and nationwide, this is the kind of compassionate leadership we need.

UNITE HERE is proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for President.   With our endorsement comes our commitment to deliver the swing state of Nevada to her winning campaign.

UNITE HERE represents 270,000 women and men across North America who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries. Learn more at www.unitehere.org.

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Following the endorsement, Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:

I am honored to have earned the endorsement of UNITE HERE.

American workers built the greatest middle class in history by fighting for higher wages, safer working conditions, retirement security and the right to organize and bargain collectively.  UNITE HERE has been on the front lines for decades, fighting to raise the minimum wage and reform our broken immigration system. They’ve stood strong to protect the rights and safety of workers across the country—and they’ve stood up to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who personally signed a contract with a union-busting firm to try to keep UNITE HERE from organizing workers in Las Vegas. I was proud to visit with UNITE HERE workers on the picket line twice in the primary, and I was even prouder when they overcame Trump’s intimidation campaign and were officially certified as a union earlier this year.

UNITE HERE knows, as I do, that America is stronger together. Workers’ rights to organize, to bargain collectively, to be safe on the job, and to retire with dignity and security after years of hard work are fundamental to our country and to our economy. In too many statehouses across the country—and even in the halls of Congress—these rights are under concerted attack by Republicans and big corporations who have forgotten that a strong economy requires a strong workforce. If I am elected President, workers will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House. I’ll protect and build upon President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and will introduce legislation to at last secure comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship within my first 100 days. And I’ll always have workers’ backs—because when workers are strong, America is strong.

#UniteAC — Trump Taj Mahal Workers Walk-Off In Strike

Trump Taj Mahal FB Share[2]STRIKE! Nearly 1,000 Trump Taj Mahal Workers Walk-Off Job Ahead of Atlantic City’s Biggest Weekend of the Year

Carl Icahn-owned Casino Has Cut Wages & Benefits by
35% for Workers Who Average Less than $12/hour

Atlantic City, NJ — Nearly a thousand cooks, housekeepers, bellmen and servers from the Trump Taj Mahal walked off the job on Friday ahead of the industry’s biggest holiday weekend to fight for decent wages and the future of their middle class livelihoods. 

The strike at the Trump Taj Mahal— a casino owned by billionaire Carl Icahn — follows on the heels of tentative agreements with the Tropicana and Caesars Entertainment, which owns Atlantic City’s Caesars, Harrah’s and Bally’s.

Many workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, including those with years on the job, have seen only $.80 in total raises over the last twelve years. The cost of living in Atlantic City has risen over 25 percent in the same time period. Housekeepers, servers and other casino workers at the Taj Mahal earn an average of less than $12/ hour. 

When casino workers can’t earn a decent wage, it hurts women and families the most. The Atlantic City casino workforce is predominantly female (55 percent), many of whom have kids and families at home to support. The average age is 49 years old.

When casino workers can’t earn a decent wage, it hurts women and families the most. The Atlantic City casino workforce is predominantly female (55 percent), many of whom have kids and families at home to support. The average age is 49 years old.

When casino workers can’t earn a decent wage, it hurts women and families the most. The Atlantic City casino workforce is predominantly female (55 percent), many of whom have kids and families at home to support. The average age is 49 years old.

Billionaires’ Gains Means Workers’ Pain

As the principle creditor between 2010 and 2014, Icahn extracted $350 million from the property, driving it into bankruptcy and then swooping in to take control. He used the bankruptcy proceeding to strip Taj Mahal workers of health benefits, retirement security and even paid breaks. Overall, he cut worker compensation in wages and benefits by 35%.

“For 20 months, 1,000 loyal Taj Mahal employees have been fighting to restore the middle class jobs that were destroyed in the bankruptcy. Today, we said enough is enough, and went on strike for a restoration of health benefits and fair wages and working conditions,” said Fabia Sespedes, a housekeeper at the Taj Mahal for 9 years.

Without health benefits, half of workers at the Trump Taj Mahal rely on subsidized health insurance. A third have no health insurance at all, putting them at risk of bankruptcy in the event of an illness and forcing taxpayers to pay for visits to the Emergency Room. Some of the workers rely on other public assistance programs, like food stamps.

“We’ve sacrificed long enough to make the Trump Taj Mahal a success. It’s time that the billionaire who owns the Taj use the millions in profits he’s taken from the Taj Mahal to provide the people who built those profits with a decent wage and good benefits that let us support our families,” said Mayra Gonzalez, a pantry chef at the Taj Mahal for 26 years. “We’ve given them every chance possible to do the right thing, now we’re going to take it to the streets.”

A Need to Reinvest in Atlantic City

Housekeepers, servers and other casino workers — who earn less than $12 per hour, or less than $25,000 per year – can’t survive on stagnant wages and have their backs against a wall because a billionaire is bent on squeezing out profits at the expense of working people and the Atlantic City economy.

“We have said from the beginning that it is impossible to revitalize Atlantic City unless the casino industry offers good jobs that let workers support their families. Four other casinos have recognized that simple fact, and it’s a shame that the Trump Taj Mahal can’t get with the program,” said Bob McDevitt, President of UNITE HERE Local 54. 


Use Twibbon to change your Facebook or Twitter profile photo to show your support for striking Trump Taj Mahal workers: http://lil.ms/1a9u 

Click here to sign their petition bit.ly/TajStrikePetition


ABOUT UNITE HERE

UNITE HERE represents workers throughout the United States and Canada who work in the hotel, gaming, food, service, airport, textile, manufacturing, distribution, laundry and transportation industries.  Learn more at www.unitehere.org.

Local 54, UNITE HERE’s Atlantic City affiliate, represents almost 10,000 casino workers fighting for the future of their families.

Playing Against The House: The True Story Of An Undercover Union Organizer

PlayingAgainsttheHouse.coverimageAs an active union member, and labor blogger, I have always enjoyed sharing the stories of unions winning an election or ratifying their first contract. I know that it is very hard to organize a worksite but it was not until I read “Playing Against The House” that I truly began to understand how hard organizing workers and winning a union election really is.

When I began my career, I was lucky enough to have a union there to represent me. The only choice I had to make was to join the union or not.

I never had to risk losing my job and falling into homelessness over my decision to join the union. I never understood the risks workers face as a union election approaches.

Playing Against The House” is powerful and an amazingly well written book about the difficulties workers face when trying to organize their worksites and the fear workers face as their employer pushes back against their organizing efforts.

The book is a first person account of James Walsh’s experiences working in the service industry at two casinos in South Florida. The struggle to pay his bills, living off tips, the terrible shifts, all while working to build support for the union organizing drive.

After graduating from grad school, Walsh decided he wanted to write a book how unions organize workers. Walsh decided to become a union “salt”. A salt is a worker who helps to build support for the union from the inside of the company. In Walsh’s case he became a server at a couple of different casinos in the South Florida area.

James Walsh Photo Credit Cory Vander Ploeg

James Walsh
Photo Credit Cory Vander Ploeg

Walsh worked with organizers from UNITE HERE to get a job at the casinos the union had a card check agreement with. As a salt, Walsh was there to build connections with other workers, to identify leaders who would be willing to stand up against their employer, and to encourage more workers to support the union.

I was riveted by the story. I literally could not put the book down. I began to feel the anxiety as the organizers began collecting signature cards. I felt angry when workers were fired for supporting the union, knowing full well that it was an illegal termination. I was inspired as workers held demonstrations and were arrested in support of their fellow workers wrongful terminations.

Throughout the book, Walsh highlights the strong anti-union, anti-worker corporate agenda as the casino bosses skirt the edges of illegal union busting activities.   Walsh provided detailed accounts of the tactics used by his employer as they work to squash organizing drives.

To truly comprehend the hard work and dedication it takes to win an organizing drive, this book is an absolute must read.


(Below are a few other quotes praising Walsh’s work.)


PLAYING AGAINST THE HOUSE:
The Dramatic World of an Undercover Union Organizer

By James D. Walsh

“[Walsh] does an engagingly readable job of humanizing the labor battle, showing just how much power the corporations wield.” Kirkus Reviews

“The degree of commitment shown by this young author is stunning. James Walsh used his two years in low wage jobs to help bring a union fight to casino owners and, now, an original, first-hand account to readers. It’s an up-close, empathetic portrait of the working poor, in particular the bravest among them, and what happens when idealism meets the sausage-making of union organizing.” —Ted Conover, author of Rolling Nowhere and Newjack: Guardian Sing Sing

“James Walsh’s Playing Against the House is a brilliantly conceived and executed undercover exposé about union rights at casinos. Set in South Florida, the narrative is full of compassion for the hard-working poor. Every page sizzles. This is New Journalism at its finest.” —Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite   

Meet James Walsh

March 7 * Half King Reading Series * New York, NY

April 3 * Politics & Prose * Washington, DC

New England Joint Board Of UNITE HERE Endorse Bernie Sanders

Statement from Bert Barao, President of New England Joint Board UNITE HERE and tailor at Macy’s Department Store.

“Today I am proud to announce that the rank and file leaders of the Executive Board of the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE have unanimously voted to endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States. It is a particularly proud moment for our union because he is our own Senator for the great state of Vermont. Over the years we have come to know Bernie as a relentless and unflappable fighter for workers. Bernie is the candidate who will put workers and their families first. In these times, where big banks, corporations, and the wealthy few hold enormous power over both our economy and political process, we are in desperate need of a President who will challenge the powers which have whittled down our middle class. Bernie’s pledge to fight inequality, take on the big banks, and spread opportunity to all Americans not just the few, resonates with our members.

Today we are answering Bernie’s call for a political revolution. Our 10,000 members in the six New England states and New York work hard every day to provide for their families by exercising their voice on the job. We will exercise our collective voice to ensure that our country is no longer ruled by big banks. We will stand together to fight corporate special interests and the job-killing trade deals that empower them. We will bring people together to achieve a debt-free higher education system, a healthcare system which values people instead of profits, and a strong social security system that will allow people to retire with dignity. We will work hard to elect Bernie Sanders the next President of the United States.”


The New England Joint Board UNITE HERE is the union representing 10,000 workers in the six New England states and New York in the textile, garment, manufacturing, laundry, distribution, human services, and food service industries. 


 

Trump Las Vegas Workers Vote For UNITE HERE Union

Trump-vote-victory-099sTrump Las Vegas Workers Vote “YES” to Join the Union in NLRB Election

Culinary Union Calls for Immediate Contract Negotiations

LAS VEGAS, NV – After two days of voting in a National Labor Relations Board election, a majority of workers at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas have voted “YES” to be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 of UNITE HERE. Over 500 employees of the hotel are in the union’s bargaining units and were eligible to vote.

Trump Las Vegas workers voted in the NLRB election on December 4 and 5 at their hotel. This victory for workers at the luxury non-gaming hotel co-owned by businessman Donald Trump and casino owner Phillip Ruffin, comes nine months after workers at the Trump International Hotel Toronto voted to join UNITE HERE, and one week after the Trump Toronto workers ratified their first contract.

“I’m so happy that our voices were heard and votes counted!” said Carmen Llarull, a guest room attendant at the hotel, “My coworkers and I look forward to negotiating a fair contract and making our lives better.”

“Trump Las Vegas workers have spoken loud and clear: They want respect, dignity, and the Las Vegas union standard,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union. ”Trump Las Vegas should recognize the workers’ vote immediately and sit down with us to negotiate a contract as soon as possible.”

“I’m proud to work at this five-star hotel and am even prouder that we have joined the union,” said Alma Zamarin, a food server at the property. “My coworkers and I need fair wages, good benefits, and job security at the Trump Las Vegas, just like workers at other non-gaming properties on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Other non-casino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip that are union and have union benefits: Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, Elara Hilton Grand Vacations, Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on the Las Vegas Strip, Hilton Grand Vacation Paradise, and Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Flamingo.


Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 57,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.

CulinaryUnion226.org / @Culinary226

Workers Deserve Respect In The Workplace: UNITE HERE Hold Massive Rally Against Station Casinos

This is what union solidarity looks like! Community activists, union members, and members of the local faith community gathered in the streets of Las Vegas to protest the illegal anti-union tactics by Station Casinos.

Station Casinos is the worst labor law violator in the history of the Nevada gaming industry. Station Casinos was found to have broken labor law and violated its employees’ rights 88 times by two administrative law judges of the National Labor Relations Board.

Queen Ruiz, a guest room attendant at Red Rock Resort and Casino wants “Station Casinos to stop treating us like we are second-class citizen(s). We are not second-class workers. We want them to respect us.”

A majority of Station workers — in classifications represented by the Culinary and Bartenders Unions — have signed a petition calling for a fair process to decide whether to unionize free from management interference, intimidation, bullying, and litigation.

Station Casinos is the fourth largest private-sector employer in Las Vegas. It has nine large hotel-casinos located throughout Las Vegas. There is a major labor dispute at: Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch, Boulder Station, Santa Fe Station, Sunset Station, Palace Station, Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson.

The Culinary Union has created an online resource about the on-going labor dispute at these Station properties: www.VegasTravelAlert.org/Stations. The public and event and conference planners are urged to contact the union to discuss labor-peaceful alternatives to utilizing these properties.

It does not matter is you clean rooms, collect trash, deal cards, or serve food, everyone deserves respect from their employer.  Station Casinos should stop their illegal interference in UNITE HERE’s organizing efforts and let the workers decide if they want to join the union.

View this video on YouTube

Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 55,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. The Culinary is one of the fastest growing private sector local unions in the U.S. and has just concluded negotiations for 44,000 workers on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.

At The NALC Convention, Letter Carriers Show Their Support For All Workers

NALC6

Having  just returned from Philadelphia and an NALC Convention that was inspiring.  I am struck by the fact that Letter Carrier solidarity towards our political fight  for survival has continued to strengthen since our last convention in 2012. What has also increased in intensity is the national war on workers. Battlegrounds were all around us, many speakers at the convention relayed stories about attacks on worker rights and when we stepped outside we saw visible proof with the Carpenters Union picketing the convention center and UNITE HERE picketing the Radisson Warwick Blu which was one of our host hotels. Clearly all our grievances are connected.

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Senator Bernie Sanders speaking at the NALC convention

Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a fiery speech which was interrupted multiple times with standing ovations by the nearly 7000 delegates.”Well, I’ve got a message for Mr. Donahoe,” Sanders said. “At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, do not destroy middle-class jobs at the Postal Service. At a time when senior citizens and small businesses depend on the Postal Service operating six-days a week, do not end Saturday mail. At a time when the Postal Service is competing with the instantaneous communications of e-mail and high-speed Internet services, do not slow down the delivery of mail, speed it up. And do not dismantle the Postal Service by shutting down a quarter of the mail processing plants left in this country.”

The address by National Postal Mail Handlers Union President John Hegarty stressed the importance of the newly signed postal alliance which has all four postal unions working together to save the Postal Service. “The Postal Union Alliance puts it out there for all to see; we are united and we can’t be defeated.”

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NH State Association of Letter Carriers members Wayne Alterisio and Lew Henry stand with locked out Carpenters

Outside the convention center was a group of locked out carpenters. The Carpenters union which was locked out  seems to have a valid grievance and is currently in court trying to end their lock out. By some reports the Carpenters have been vigilant in contract enforcement and this may have played a role in the hard-line stand  from the convention center. In the spirit of solidarity the carpenters were enthusiastic participants with Letter Carriers and community groups in the Stop Staples rally held on Wednesday. The most contentious issue in their negotiations was a clause to allow increased low wage temporary workers.

NALC3A mile away UNITE HERE organized a  boisterous rally at the Radisson  Warwick Blu Hotel on Friday. The contagious spirit was reminiscent of early OWS in NYC . The workers are in difficult contract negotiations looking for a fair contract with job security. Workers are looking for protection from contracting out their jobs to low wage workers. For a company that is making millions of dollars a year giving its workers a fair contract should not be an issue. This is the latest example that corporate greed is always an obstacle to fairness.

All these workers realize that prosperity spreads  from the middle class out not from the top down. If trickle down economics works we would be flooded in jobs at the present time. The wealthy have not owned such a high percentage of our nations wealth since before the Great Depression of the 20’s. With the extreme wealthy making money at unparalleled rate why wouldn’t they pay their workers a fair wage.

2014-02-05-FiveQuintilesIncome.jpg
At a workshop local fast food workers outlined their plight against the reckless greed that has run rampant through their industry. A moving presentation from a fast food worker who was fired last week from his job for participating in activism to raise the minimum wage. It was eye-opening. He has two small children and was trying to survive on $7.25 an hour. In reality he had no choice but to fight to raise the wage. He had nothing to lose.

Corporate owned politicians are hell-bent on eliminating public services and replacing those union middle class jobs with low pay, no benefit, non-union jobs. It is accelerating the race to the bottom. In the private sector turning middle class jobs into temp jobs is happening at an alarming rate.  How can the ultra wealthy not comprehend  they are creating an unsustainable economic structure?

Our economic system can either make many people prosper for a long period of time or a few prosper for a short time. Judging by the building wave of economic discontent the clock is starting to run out on our plutocracy.

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