Workers marched across the streets of San Francisco on Labor Day, imploring corporations to enforce more stringent COVID-19 measures and provide compensation for workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Camucha King, a private dining server at Marriott’s St. Regis hotel in SoMa district for 15 years, was furloughed in March. The hotel chain stopped paying for her health care insurance. The union health care fund now finances her health insurance. But the fund will expire by the end of October.
“[Marriott is] refusing to give us health care insurance,” King said, who has a daughter with asthma and an elderly mother. “They are refusing to negotiate with the union. That’s the scary part.”
According to UNITE HERE Local 2, 250 union workers like King at The City’s St. Regis hotel are furloughed. In all, more than 1,500 Marriott union workers citywide are furloughed, representing about 90 percent of the union workers at Marriott hotels in The City.
Over 450 protesters from hotel workers and janitors to rideshare drivers and food service workers gathered at the Yerba Buena Gardens and marched to the St. Regis hotel. Anand Singh, president of UNITE HERE Local 2, said the St. Regis hotel has fallen short of implementing adequate COVID-19 safety measures since its reopening, violating The City’s Healthy Buildings Ordinance. The legislation was passed by the Board of Supervisors in July, mandating tourist hotels and large commercial offices to implement COVID-19 measures.
Protesters made their way to Lyft’s corporate headquarters in The City. According to UNITE HERE Local 2, 75 janitors contracted to the company Service By Medallion who worked at the Lyft headquarters have been laid off.
“I still have my job. Thank God I do,” said Maria Landaverde, a janitor employed by a different company. “But not everybody can say that.” That’s why she joined the protest to support other workers who have been furloughed or laid off.
Workers then marched to Oracle Park, home to the San Francisco Giants, where food service workers employed by Bon Appétit Management Company are furloughed. While Bon Appétit announced layoffs of food service workers at the stadium in July, the company later rescinded its announcement. And food service workers of the company are now on furlough. Even though the Giants announced in April that it would provide some relief to food service workers at the stadium, workers say it needs to do more.
Standing on the car caravan in front of Oracle Park was Supervisor Ahsha Safai who addressed the crowd. “Plays are still being played,” he said. “Revenue is being realized … Dig deep San Francisco Giants. San Francisco has been here for you. You need to be here for your workers.”
Connie Sarmiento is one of the food service workers at Oracle Park on furlough. She has been working at the stadium for nine years. She juggled two other jobs but both employers have also furloughed her.
“The rich people don’t care about us. They should support our family,” said Sarmiento, who has three children. “It’s so hard to believe that the rich people — the Giants — are going to do this.”
“We’ve been loyal to them and we’ve been working [for] them a long time,” she continued. “They don’t have mercy.”