I haven't made it out to the picket lines in support of the San Francisco hotel workers and in protest of their lockout by the big hotel bosses--I'm planning to get out there tomorrow. This week was a big one for the union and the workers: this past Tuesday they staged a rally in Union Square to drum up more public support and visibility for the workers' cause, and progressive movement heavyweights Jesse Jackson and Danny Glover have represented on the mic and on the picket line. UNITE/HERE Local 2 are a powerful, ambitious union that has staged dramatic campaigns with lots of loud street action in the past--which is a good thing, since their capitalist counterparts, the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, made up of the major hotels in the City, is super-organized and ruthless and more than willing to exploit workers. I thought this contract negotiation-cum-strike-cum-lockout was just more ambitious campaigns of this dynamic union.
But, no! There's much more going on behind the scenes, as laid out in the excellent analysis piece by my favorite movement journalist (and photo-journalist) David Bacon, which is in this week's Bay Guardian. Turns out the union has, on a national level, been carrying out an even more ambitious strategy to 'level the playing field' between themselves and the corporate hotel chains, who don't take much of a hit from these one-city strikes/lockouts because they have hotels all over the US and the rest of the world that continue to operate. In a nutshell, the SF campaign is just one piece of a larger plan to be able to build bargaining power in the big hotel markets of SF, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and other major US cities. Read David's article for more, it's brilliant stuff.
And who said the labor movement was boring? I'm having flashbacks to the UPS strike days myself...;-)
Makibaka Huwag Matakot-