VIDEO, RADIO, COMMENTARY: UNITE HERE Hotel Workers Share Their Voices on Historic Double Tree Strike
The historic strike was the first to hit the San Jose hotel industry in 36 years. De-Bug's multimedia coverage includes a Block2Block radio interview with workers, a written commentary by employee and union member Andrey Ortiz, and a video of the strike in action.
SAN JOSE, CA -- My name is Adrey Ortiz. I am 25 years old and I work at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, which is owned by Hilton. I have currently been working at the front desk for a year now. When talk about the strike came up I was nervous about my job security, just like many of my coworkers. But once I was provided with further information, I knew that when the time came I would be striking with my team.
The thought that such a well known company and brand did not want to provide a better contract for us, their hard workers, was upsetting. Increasing our health care prices while wages stay frozen would make continuing to live in the Bay Area impossible. My entire family -- mother,father, and siblings -- all left the Bay Area after the recession hit because of the cost of living. I stayed behind because the Bay Area is my home.
Living in a two bedroom household with three roommates is the only way I can continue to stay here. A wage freeze and higher costs for health care will make my dreams of eventually living on my own impossible. All of us at the Doubletree work hard. Some individuals are the only provider for their families, others are here because they need a second or third job just to provide for their families. Whatever our background the main connection we all have is the hard work and dedication we provide to the Doubletree and our guests. All we are asking for is to be respected and not to be treated as second class citizens.
On the morning of the start of our strike it was 4:30am and I received a text message from one of my coworkers informing me that the strike was on. A few hours later, a handful of text messages, phone calls, and voice messages were sent out. We as a team were ready to strike, rain or shine -- and it did rain that first day. I arrived at the hotel in full uniform; but this time it was not to work. I arrived ready to make sure our voice was heard.
To my surprise, striking is not an easy thing. Chanting and marching for hours and hours every day is hard work but every shore throat, blister and pain in my arm from holding the sign was and is worth it. We are not just hard workers but a family. The past four days we all have bonded with one another because we are all fighting for the same reason. Our presence has been seen and our voices have been heard. A contract may not have been presented to us just yet, but as a growing extended family we shall continue to fight for our rights TOGETHER!! In the name of Cesar Chavez -- "Si se puede!"
For more information regarding the UNITE HERE campaign go to: www.unitehere.org
To listen to more Block to Block Radio with host David Madrid, tune into 91.5fm every Wednesday at 8am-10am, or catch the podcast by clicking: Block to Block Radio podcast.
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