Sonoma Mission Inn workers call for union representation

Posted on November 13, 2023 by Anna Pier

Pro-union workers and supporters picketed the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn on November 10 to raise awareness that the hotel does not have a contract for representation by the industry union, Unite Here Local 2. 

Holding placards headlined UNFAIR and chanting slogans, the crowd of more than 200 gathered at the main gate, while a brass band played and speakers addressed the crowd from the porch of the adjacent Big 3 property on Boyes Boulevard.

The action was called by Unite Here Local 2, the hospitality workers’ union that represents 15,000 Bay Are workers. It contends that when workers at the Fairmont Sonoma started organizing, the hotel responded with a vicious anti-union campaign.

Speeches Friday evening were alternated with a march along Highway 12  on the sidewalk by the front wall of the Inn. Marchers chanted the classic “Hey hey, ho ho” followed by “Corporate greed has got to go” and “Union busting’s got to go” with reference to SMI management’s 43 documented incidents of harassment and intimidation, violations of labor law alleged by the National Labor Relations Board. (SMI settled the allegations without an evidentiary hearing, so the NLRB did not make any ultimate finding of violations.)

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is owned by Brookfield Asset Management and operated by Accor.

Several workers mentioned the discrepancy between their wages and those of Fairmont employees at the San Francisco site, which is a union hotel. Housekeepers, dishwashers and cooks at the Fairmont in Sonoma receive at least $7/hour less than their counterparts at the SF Fairmont. A flyer stated that rooms at SF Fairmont start at $274, while the lowest price at the Fairmont Sonoma is $619.

Several employees mentioned the Sonoma hotel’s reduction of staff since the pandemic, leaving staff to do the work of two people. There are currently about 250 employees at the Sonoma hotel. 

In addition to the employee speakers, other union and labor representatives addressed the crowd, including Mark Malouf, lifetime Sonoman, who spoke on behalf of the Teamsters Local 665 of San Francisco, affirming solidarity with the UniteHere Local 2. 

Assemblymember Damon Connolly also addressed the gathered supporters for a union at the Fairmont SMI.

A representative of UniteHere Local 2 told The Sun that the management of SMI has not responded to the employees’ request that was presented to the hotel’s General Manager in person on September 8. Employees, who signed the request individually, asked management to meet with them to establish a fair process to decide on unionization, without intimidation, threats, or bribery.

They are requesting the hotel workers a fair process agreement to allow them to decide on. At that action, which took place on the grounds behind the hotel, employees expressed their grievances in person to the GM. The presentation was witnessed by another large community turnout, including elected City leaders, representatives of Assembly members, and members of the Valley’s Faith Leaders Alliance.  

Photo: Representatives of Jobs with Justice carry a huge banner above the picket signs on November 10, 2023. 


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA