News Stories and Updates (Latest at the top):
-As unemployment benefits expire, Colorado restaurant workers are taking to the streets to demand support – Unemployed Colorado workers received their last enhanced unemployment check today and they are worried. UNITE HERE Local 23 Denver, along with the Denver DSA and Colorado Jobs with Justice formed Colorado Restaurant Workers United to fight for the rights of restaurant workers during the COVID pandemic. They will be holding a mock funeral procession from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to the office of Republican Senator Cory Gardner. The funeral represents what will happen if Congress fails to act now on extending the $600 unemployment insurance. According to Elise Dantzler, a Colorado Restaurant Workers United member, “That $600 was absolutely a lifeline. “There’s no way I could have paid all my bills. I mean, Denver’s cost of living is just crazy.” The coalition has also organized around canceling rent increased safety for restaurants.
–New Orleans residents protest for $600 unemployment compensation extension
Local 23 New Orleans members and allies caravanned through the French Quarter to the offices of Louisiana Republican Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy on Wednesday to demand that they take action and vote for extending unemployment benefits for laid off workers. Workers delivered a box representing the over 1.5 million people in the United States that signed the Moveon.org petition to extend the $600 Federal unemployment insurance. “If the unemployment extension stops, it will be an economic disaster. People are gonna lose homes. People are gonna be evicted. We didn’t ask for this pandemic.” Willie Woods – Laid off Banquet Server. -WGNO New Orleans
– Baseball’s Stadium Workers Are Getting Peanuts From the Billionaire Owners – Opening day for baseball was this week and stadium concessions workers are reminded that while owners and players have gotten millions, they have struggled to get by during the pandemic. Only a small amount of the workers are needed for this shortened season so many are still out of work. When baseball shutdown, the MLB asked that each baseball team provide $1 million dollars for the stadium workers, but most UNITE HERE members did not receive it because they are not direct employees of the teams. In addition, they lost their health insurance. Heidi Hashem of Local 26 in Boston, who has worked at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, for 30 years, was laid off, neither the team nor Aramark—her immediate employer—provided any relief. “We were upset because we didn’t feel part of the Fenway family,” she said. -The Nation
–#CancelRent – Podcast interviewing Sami Bourma, Compass NIH Cafeteria, DC 23
-Casino workers in Indiana released a new report, “Gambling on our Health: Inadequate Insurance for Caesars Entertainment Workers.”
–Renters are worried a pandemic-caused eviction crisis is about to hit Colorado – Featuring Daniel Grosso, leader from Denver Restaurant Workers United
-On Wednesday 6/17 110 hotel workers joined members of Houston City Council in a “town hall” discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic, and steps Houston First Corporation can take to avoid creating a public health crisis by allowing downtown hotel workers to lose their health insurance coverage. After our event, Marriott announced that eligibility for Marriott’s health and insurance benefits coverage for associates on furlough, temporary layoff, or reduced work schedule will continue through October 2, 2020.
-Local 23 Indiana participated in a Black Lives Matter protest in Indiana along with members of the Indiana Racial Justice Alliance on June 8th. Local 23 and the Racial Alliance laid out 4 demands to end police brutality. Watch here.
–Why the Fair Fund Campaign matters “the first time in this city’s history that hospitality workers came together and won an industry-wide victory of this scale” – Local 23 New Orleans Chapter
-23 Georgia’s Caravan for Black Lives Matter got Local and International Press:
“Everybody’s getting really tired and upset. You get frustrated and you get angry,” said Linda Harris, an airport concessions worker and shop steward for the UNITE Here union. “We are trying, through all of this, to maintain our healthcare.” —Atlanta protests: 6th night of demonstrations ends with 43 arrests
“Workers are also protesting for justice for George Floyd. They lost their jobs due to COVID and between that and the situation of racism against black people, they are demanding justice.” — Al Jazeera Arabic
-HMS Host Charlotte shared their stories on Facebook and called for a health insurance extension. “NO one should be without access to health care during these difficult times. My whole family, including my 3 year old child is insured under me” said Leila Pires who has 15 years as a Server HMS Host CLT. Click to also see the videos from Heather Wilkins, Tony Davenport, Jeanette Perry, Karey Szucs and William Voltz.
-Local 23 New Orleans joined other GNO Fair Hospitality Fund organizations for a socially distanced protest on Bourbon Street. We are calling on the New Orleans Convention Center Authority to release $100 million of it’s $200 million reserves to provide aid for laid off hospitality workers. “We did the work. At this time when we are struggling, we deserve relief.” – Trinice Dyer, Server, Hilton Riverside, New Orleans 23
-This week Atlanta 23 released a petition signed by hundreds of ATL airport workers and another video highlighting the urgent situation with our healthcare. We have also left dozens of voicemails that were played at last two city council meetings. Tiffany Ester from Airport Retail Management ATL also told her story to the newspaper “Now when she cooks, she tells her kids: ‘Don’t waste anything, because we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.’” As pandemic lingers, fears grow that more families forced to go hungry
-Local 23 stood with our allies calling for #CancelRent in Colorado Piden al gobernador cancelar rentas e hipotecas a afectados por COVID-19 en Colorado
–The Pandemic Is Inspiring A Wave Of Unionization Efforts. Will It Lead To Greater Protections? — Renita Harrison, Sodexo Government Cafeteria, DC 23
–Cancel or strike: Pressure mounts to help U.S. renters amid coronavirus — Sami Bourma, Compass NIH Cafeteria, DC 23
–Federal rescue money is helping keep many airport workers on the job — but not all of them –Tadious Yalew, Paradies DCA, DC 23
–Sports wagering bill advances in the La. legislature; union for casino workers releases guidelines –Brenda Tucker Cassity, Baker, MGM Beau Rivage Biloxi and Local 23 President Marlene Patrick Cooper
–Video conference with UNITE HERE union leadership, casino workers, and elected affiliate leaders to release health and sanitation guidelines for casino companies, as conversation continues around reopening of venues. –Brenda Tucker Cassity, Baker, MGM Beau Rivage Biloxi and Local 23 President Marlene Patrick Cooper
-Unemployed restaurant workers fret about becoming infected upon returning to work –Robert Davis, Airport Bartender, ATL
-The “House” takes a hit with Americans forced to stay at home –Matt Kennon, MGM Beau Rivage, Biloxi
-Rebound Indiana: Employees concerned over reopening casinos — Local 23 Indiana
–Casino workers, union leaders discuss safety for workers –Brenda Tucker Cassity, MGM Beau Rivage, Biloxi
–‘Cancel Rent’ Virtual Rally Calls For Rent, Mortgage Payments To Stop Until Coronavirus Pandemic Ends –Denver Chapter of Local 23
-Donald Trump hoping for fewer than 100,000 US deaths as country starts to reopen | ABC News — Petty Padilla, Hilton Americas, Houston
-After weeks of advocacy, the Gulf Coast labor movement today celebrated a major victory for working families, as Houston City Council voted to create a $14.4 million relief fund to assist renters struggling with the sudden loss of a job or wages due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Christy Evans Fox from Harrah’s Gulf Coast told her powerful story to the press:
–I Spent 20 Years Working at a Casino—Now I’m Out of a Job
New Orleans Campaign for a Fair Fund for Hospitality Workers – Latest News:
–Convention Center puts hotel development on hold and donates $1 million for coronavirus relief, but fails to satisfy local coalition
–Convention Center to consider $1 million donation to worker relief aid at Wednesday meeting after demands for $100 million
Atlanta Local 23 on TV:
–Metro Atlanta food banks step up to help those hit by pandemic’s effects
Kevin Hollins from Sodexo Howard University in the Washington Post:
-D.C. university dining workers push companies, schools for financial help, with little success
USA Today Article about Overlooked Stadium Workers:
–Owners pledged to pay workers when sports shut down, but many are being overlooked
150+ joined an Online Rally calling on the New Orleans Convention Center Authority to release $100 million to help New Orleans hospitality workers. Local 23 rallied on Monday the 20th and participated in a clergy vigil on Tuesday April 21st. On Wednesday April 22nd Local 23 members and community supporters gave comment at the convention center board meeting.
“The New Orleans Convention Center has been extremely successful throughout the years. A lot of their funding comes from tourists that stay in the hotels that we work at and taxes from the food and beverages that we serve.”
– Kamille McCuin, Cocktail Server, Harrah’s New Orleans
Click HERE to see the campaign video
New Orleans coalition to hold online rally Monday calling for hospitality worker relief fund
Major labor union threatens to cancel convention in New Orleans if Convention Center doesn’t address local workers’ demands for relief
Northern VA tenants hold “Our Money For Food!” car caravan action. Local 23 members and their neighbors had to work two and three jobs to pay rent in an expensive area like Northern Virginia – before COVID-19. “How will we pay our rent – even with a deferral plan – during COVID-19 and in the following months?” Tenants in the Southern Towers buildings held a car caravan action on Monday April 20th to continue to push their demand for rent cancellation.
Constellation Culinary in DC has now agreed to pay for National Gallery of Art employees’ health insurance for April and May. In addition, any bargaining unit member who tests positive for COVID-19 will receive 14 paid sick days. We will stay in dialogue with Constellation as this crisis unfolds to ensure that members are safe & secure.
Local 23 leaders in Denver, CO and Alexandria, VA played key roles in winning City Council resolutions calling for rent cancellation during the COVID emergency.
—The Denver resolution passed 13-0 and was covered by various news outlets.
A group of laid-off service workers in Denver is pushing for a total cancellation of rent, mortgage, and utility payments, for at least the next ninety days: “Among the activists leading the campaign are several laid-off airport food-service workers who had been trying to unionize their workplaces with UNITE HERE when the COVID-19 crisis hit. While, their hopes for a union are now on ice, they are channeling their organizing energy into their campaign to keep renters housed.”
Denver City Council to call on Gov. Polis to cancel rent, mortgage payments during COVID-19 crisis
Denver City Council urges state and federal leaders to cancel rent, mortgage payments amid pandemic
—The Alexandria City Council resolution also passed unanimously. Alexandria is the first city in the East Coast to pass a resolution in support of rent cancellation.
On Saturday April 18th Local 23 Atlanta delivered 400 grocery bags to UNITE HERE members and other laid off hospitality workers. Churches and other unions, including the AFGE, raised money and donated food.
Local 23 members sent videos to Houston City Council to make sure that their voices were heard during this time of crisis. Now the city government has taken the position that concessions employers at IAH Bush Airport have to pay a $12 living wage in order to get COVID rent relief. This could mean raises of up to $1.80/hr for 100’s at IAH Bush Airport. Click HERE to see the videos.
We did a national press conference to call on casino companies to take care of their workers. The event featured Local 23 President Marlene Patrick Cooper and Jaron Ashley from the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS.
-US casino workers: Pay us through the shutdown
-‘10 times worse than Katrina.’ Casinos not eligible for COVID-19 relief to pay employees.
or click HERE to watch the whole press conference
We called and emailed about the stimulus bill and we won:
-One-time cash payments – $1,200 one-time payment per eligible adult and $500 per eligible minor child.
-Enhanced Unemployment Benefits – Laid-off workers are eligible to receive unemployment benefits for up to four months, in an amount equal to the regular state unemployment benefit plus an additional
$600 per week.
-Extended Unemployment Benefits. The Senate bill provides for an extra 13 weeks of regular state provided unemployment benefits, through Dec. 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after
exhausting their state unemployment benefits.
Click here to read more about what we won in the Stimulus Bill.
We have won extended pay and benefits. For 17,000+ in Local 23 we have won extensions of pay and/or health insurance during the layoff. We are fighting every day to win longer extensions that will cover more workers.
We have spoken up to make sure that layoffs are done per the contract at Host ATL, Dallas Sky Chefs, Compass Cummins IN and in other 23 workplaces across the country.
We are also telling our stories to the world and changing our communities. Click below links to read about Local 23 leaders in Atlanta, DC, Denver, Indiana and New Orleans who are fighting for justice for all renters and hospitality workers.
-Sami Bourma from Compass NIH in DC:
‘No Job? No Rent.’: Residents At An Alexandria Apartment Complex Prepare To Strike
-Emmanuel Segura from Local 23 New Orleans:
Coalition of New Orleans hospitality workers and advocates call for tourist groups to provide relief funds
-Jeanie Mays from Aramark Coors Field in Denver:
With baseball postponed, Coors Field’s Aramark workers struggle with no financial support from company or Rockies
-Stacey Hedrick from ATL Delaware North:
Renters hit hard by coronavirus layoffs face April 1 payment date
-Taylor Cox from Caesars Indiana Grand:
‘What am I supposed to do?’: Covid-19 sparks mass unemployment across US