BERKELEY (CBS SF) — In the predawn hours Thursday, hotel workers launched a boisterous picket line outside Berkeley’s DoubleTree hotel, demanding higher pay, better working conditions and protesting job cuts stemming back to the dark days of the COVID pandemic.
Union leaders said the Berkeley demonstration was one of two scheduled in the San Francisco Bay Area. A second, larger protest, will include a march by hundreds of workers in San Francisco Thursday afternoon.READ MORE: South Bay Retailer Shutters Store in Response to Smash-and-Grab Crime Wave
Other labor actions will take place in major cities across the country. Among the local protesters was Yolanda Chen, a housekeeper at the Hilton Union Square for five years.
“The hotel industry wants to go back to full occupancy without ever bringing back the full workforce, but we are fighting to stop them,” she said in a news release. “Over the past few months, Hilton has only called me back to work three times, and I cannot find a job with the same wages and health care that my coworkers and I have won through many years of organizing. We want to get our jobs back so our families can recover from the pandemic.”READ MORE: Grieving Family Members Call for Justice for Slain Security Guard Kevin Nishita
Ted Waechter was among the picketers in Berkeley, who woke up guests with clanging bells, whistles and loud chants.
“We are here at this hotel because workers are making a minimum wage and its not enough to make it here in the Bay Area,” he told KPIX 5. “Now, Hilton has proposed increasing health care costs for new hires. That’s unacceptable…We are here waking up guests, but also waking up the hotel.”
Among the other issues, union leaders said, was the fear that daily housekeeping would be cut back or eliminated. Union leaders claimed that ending daily housekeeping would eliminate up to 39% of all U.S. hotel housekeeping jobs, including almost 3,000 jobs in the Bay Area.MORE NEWS: Omicron Variant Outbreak Reported In Alameda County Among People Already Vaccinated; Cases 'Mildly Symptomatic'
Hilton officials have not yet issued a statement regarding the labor action.