Letter to the editor:
For the past two-and-a-half years I have been working with my coworkers to get a letter to our union demanding that they start representing us and settle our contract with our hotel. During that time my efforts have been met with ridicule, obstruction, malfeasance, and outright sabotage from the powers-that-be. My story below shows the union for what it is, an organization that breaks the will of its members, while enriching themselves growing their own power.
Today I write after yet another one of my efforts, fully supported through signatures and petitions, has been met with sabotage by union officials who, rather than fighting the measure through arguing the other side, have resorted to stealing the very documents that prove the will of their members.
Here is the story:
I kept silent for the first year as a union member, even sided with them to get our cost-of-living increases and healthcare. But the hotel gave in on that over a year ago, and still no signed contract, and no pay increases until the contract is signed. The only thing we have is a lot of is pissed off employees.
I started by talking to my reps, politely telling them that I wanted the contract signed; they said they don’t represent me, that I’ll have to represent myself, and if I wanted anything changed I should get a petition signed (this was six months ago). They asked us to go on a weeklong strike, no one complied. They sent out more propaganda saying that we would get less than other hotels if we settled now. Different is not less. They say that I am not who they are working for, but I am a dues-paying member who has been working for two-and-a-half of my three-and-a-half years without a contract.
Our healthcare came up for renewal and the hotel went to the union and asked that in exchange for continuing our health coverage, they stop boycotting the hotel and harassing our residents. The union decided that the boycott was more important than their current membership; they were willing to end health coverage to 1800 workers in order to advance their national agenda (to keep boycotting, pass card check, unionize the night cleaners and valet parkers). We were fed up, we started to organize a group to make the union listen to us; the majority of my union coworkers want the contract settled, so I typed up a letter.
In four hours I had 35 signatures, and I hadn’t even gone to housekeeping yet. But the union got wind of it and started up the propaganda machine, saying that we are giving away our rights, siding with the hotel, or worse. They are individually targeting people, and using friendships and personal circumstance to intimidate, shame, coerce, and bully my coworkers into silence. The first letter fell into the wrong hands and was thrown in the trash. The union leaders felt victorious, having squashed my little uprising; but they don’t know me very well. I started again, much like the progressive movement, more fragmented, and much more quietly.
It was much harder the second time, they intentionally skewed the truth, and bullied people into keeping silent. Wasn’t the union about giving the little guy a voice and some dignity in the workplace? Mostly everyone signed again, the housekeepers are fully on board, other than the ones they intimidated; they are sneaky though, and got a hold of one of the signed letters. Today was the day I was going to send the signed copies of the letter to the negotiating committee, as I went to collect them I found out that one had been stolen by a rep. I was so angry, so totally baffled as to how this person, I had left the letter with, could have been so careless with people’s names on what is becoming a very controversial little letter.
The union, again, may think it has won and it may be true that for a moment I thought about giving it all up; but there is a negotiation meeting coming up. I have worked hard for the last two-and-a-half years, and I will not see one more dime of my dues spent on people that willfully refuse to represent the will of the majority of their members. We have paid more than a million dollars in dues in the last two years, and gotten nothing in return.
So this is what democracy looks like UNITE HERE Local 1? Really?
For safety reasons, the author of this letter has chosen to remain anonymous.