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Vol. 78/No. 15      April 21, 2014

On the Picket Line
Oakland workers demand minimum wage hike
OAKLAND, Calif.—Some 300 workers marched through downtown here March 27, calling for an increase in the minimum wage. Participants included airport fast-food and concession workers, food vendors at the Oakland Coliseum, hotel workers and others.

“I began working for See’s Candies five years ago, making $9 an hour. Today I’m making $10.25. That’s why we have to fight,” said Re Bunly, a concession worker at the Oakland Airport, speaking to the protesters as they rallied at City Hall. A minority of the concession workers, including those at See’s, are nonunion.

About 200 employees of HMS Host at the Oakland airport, members of UNITE HERE Local 2850, have been fighting for a contract since July 2012. They won a victory last summer when three workers, fired for union-organizing activity, were rehired.

— Betsey Stone

Building workers protest in NY contract fight
NEW YORK—Thousands of members of Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ and their supporters demonstrated along Park Avenue in Manhattan here April 2 to defend wages and benefits. The union’s contract with the city’s Realty Advisory Board, due to expire April 20, covers some 30,000 porters, doormen, maintenance people, cleaners, supers and others who service residential properties at 3,300 apartment buildings in Manhattan.

“Maintaining or bettering our wages and health care are most important to us,” said Jerry Smiley, a porter at Lindsay Park, a residential facility.

Members of 32BJ attending the protest came from across the East Coast, from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut. Other unions there in solidarity included the Communications Workers of America, Newspaper Guild, United Federation of Teachers and Teamsters.

“Hotel workers are here today to support 32BJ getting a fair contract,” said Ben Horn, a hotel worker and member of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 6. “New York City is a very expensive city to live in and we need good wages.”

— Dan Fein

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