Working in the East Bay

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By G.W. Schulz

Both the issues of fair compensation for hotel workers and immigration rights merged this week in the East Bay with an emergency picket and a call to the police. Hotel housekeepers announced that a demonstration against Woodfin Suites Hotel in Emeryville would take place on Wednesday after claiming that the establishment threatened mass firings of immigrant workers who were demanding recognition of Measure C, a living wage and workload protection ordinance passed by East Bay voters in 2005.

According to a statement sent out by the non-profit East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, managers at Woodfin Suites gave workers 24 hours to re-submit work authorization forms or be fired. Ouch. The following day, workers delivered a petition protesting the re-verification demand and a hotel manager called the cops on them and kicked them out of the building. Since then, the 24-hour deadline has been extended to 14 days, but the hotel is still demanding a valid social security number, or workers who can’t provide one will be fired.

If that’s not enough, Woodfin Suites is suing the city of Emeryville over the ordinance, but according to an e-mail from EBASE organizer Brooke Anderson, their motion for a preliminary injunction has been denied.

“Workers see the hotel’s re-verification and termination plan as clear retaliation, which is illegal under both federal labor law and the living-wage ordinance,” the statement read.

More information can be found at EBASE’s Web site, www.workingeastbay.org.

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