Reflections from a Rally at the Hilton Mission Valley

by on March 4, 2013 · 0 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Labor, Organizing, Politics

Local 30 RallyMuch has been made of Bob Filner crashing the City Attorney’s news conference a little while ago but we shouldn’t forget that in that flurry of feistiness he pointed out that there are people among us, fellow citizens, family, friends, you name them, who are paid tacky wages. Like hotel workers.

He made it clear that the tourist industry isn’t going to ply their trade with $30 million dollars of the city’s money unless they pay hotel workers what they deserve.

How refreshing is that, a mayor for the people, a man standing up for the folks who make visitors to “America’s Finest City” comfortable and well fed, with nice pools for a swim on well manicured hotel grounds. These people get out and about town and spend money by the ton and the people who added so much to the fineness of their stay don’t get anywhere near their fair share of this bounty.

The hoteliers, however, get way more than their ownership status should allow and around these parts they have historically treated their workers as though they don’t care about them. The reason being? Because they don’t care about them.

I mean Local 30 has been fighting for years for better wages, respect and workplace justice. Now they are fighting for their very jobs. There could be massive layoffs.

A new company, Tarsadia, is buying the Hilton Mission Valley and has not guaranteed the hotel workers employment and some people have toiled there for over 20 years.

This past Friday evening I, along with some other folks, spent a little time in the lobby of the Hilton in solidarity with a number of workers. Was there ever a lot of good energy in that room. A core group, committed to non-violently expressing the disgust and rage that comes with second class citizenship, sat themselves down around a handsome rug in a spirit of “We shall overcome” and “We shall not be moved.”

They started chanting, and the rest of us joined in, matching their enthusiasm, with:

Si se puede!
Si se puede!

What do we want?
When do we want it?

HEI, rich and rude.
We don’t like your attitude!

HEI, look around.
San Diego’s a union town!

Up, up with the union!
Down, down with the bosses!

It was fun in the way that taking an active role in changing the world can be fun, in spite of the seriousness of what you might be trying to get done. One couldn’t help but put their whole body into it, like moving to the music at a concert, like responding to “Come on down!” on the Price is Right. Problem is the price isn’t right for hotel workers.

Then, there came over a megaphone, a policeman’s plea: “May I have your attention?” and the chanting and singing went up a notch, catching up his little “vacate
the premises” speech in the glorious roar, making it as intelligible as a whisper in a windstorm – as we “vacated the premises.”

I left the protest before the arrest of those who didn’t exit the scene as I had another place to be and wasn’t prepared, as I’m guessing they were, to be jailed for the usual “trespassing” or “disturbing the peace” charges that come with civil disobedience activities. They have my utmost respect.

I sure hope everything works out. Being laid off would be devastating to these hard working people in such times as these.

And while I’m hoping, I hope that before the tourist industry gets $30 million dollars of the city’s money to market what they have to offer that they have to make sure that such anxiety as Hilton Mission Valley’s workers are experiencing goes away and that paying workers fairer wages is part of the deal.

“We the People” should stay abreast of this problem and support Local 30’s struggle and support our mayor who is trying to make our city responsive to all its citizens.

Such would make one of the chants from the protest come true:

Who’s in the fight?

Who’s in the streets?

Who’s gonna win?

Said, who’s gonna win?

Truth is: we all win when justice is served.

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