Thursday, October 14, 2004

SF Hotel Strike More Than Meets the Eye

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-


Cerridwen said...

do you think they have a good chance of getting what they are demanding or would it be like the Southern CA bus strike who paid for it dearly?

I support these people who knows how to fight for what they think is right. Most of the time, employees are more concerned of their future in their company and their family (which they can not be blamed for) rather than what they legally and rightfully deserve.

Kudos to this strikers and and i am sure they will appreciate your support. Have a great weekend.

Rona Fernandez said...

Well, the union and the hotels are finally back at the negotiations table, and Mayor Gavin Newsom and other prominent leaders have been pressuring both sides to settle, so who knows if the workers will get what they're asking for? But I think the point of David's piece is that this is just a short-term fight, a way to build even more power so that if the workers don't have their way this time around, they will have built up more leverage to put even greater pressure on the companies in the near future.

Thanks for your comments!--Rona