Hotel workers and community members held a vigil Thursday outside the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn to protest multiple alleged violations of labor law.
The action was organized by the UNITE HERE Local 2, the hospitality workers’ union in the San Francisco Bay Area with some 15,000 members. The union says the hotel, owned by Brookfield Asset Management and operated by the French hospitality company Accor, has violated labor laws and has engaged in union-busting activities.
“I’ve worked for a union Fairmont and a non-union Fairmont, and it’s almost unbelievable how much better it is with the union,” said Tony Arguello, a banquet server at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. “But when my coworkers and I started organizing the union at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, the hotel responded with threats and intimidation. This vigil is about the whole Sonoma community coming together to tell the hotel to stop trying to bully us out of a union.”
Workers say they are in a David-and-Goliath fight to win better jobs, accordion to union spokesperson Ted Waechte. “The hotel and its union-busting consultants have engaged in threats, intimidation, and coercion to dissuade them from joining the UNITE HERE Local 2 union,” he said.
The luxury resort employs around 250 people. Waechte said wages, health care, and working conditions at the hotel are substantially inferior to those of union workers at other Fairmont hotels in the Bay Area. For example, housekeepers at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn make $21, compared to $28.10 at the Fairmont San Francisco.
UNITE HERE Local 2 is the hospitality workers’ union in the San Francisco Bay Area, representing over 15,000 workers at hotels, restaurants, tech cafeterias, sports stadiums, airports, and more.
Photos by Teri Shore/The Sun