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Immigrant, refugee workers demand justice in workplaces

Hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 8 members rally, march in SeaTac as part of union-wide Day of Action


The following is from UNITE HERE Local 8:

SEATAC (Oct. 20, 2017) — Hundreds of UNITE HERE members in the Seattle area rallied and marched in SeaTac on October 19 despite torrential wind and rain. Across the U.S. and Canada, thousands of UNITE HERE hospitality workers in 40 cities also took action for worker and immigrant justice in a political moment defined by divisive attacks against both groups by the Trump administration and its allies.

In SeaTac, Local 8 members marched from Angle Lake Park to SeaTac Airport to protest the ongoing injustice faced by airline catering workers fighting for a living wage. Airline catering workers make the food served on airplanes and are immigrants and refugees hailing from over 50 countries around the world.

Employees of LSG Sky Chefs, a subcontractor of Alaska Airlines, who work in a kitchen in West Seattle have been paid below the Seattle minimum wage since April 1, 2015. Earlier this month, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards reached a settlement with Sky Chefs that forfeited interest and damages due to workers and recovered just 19 months of back wages out of the 30 months that Sky Chefs paid below minimum wage.

Catherine Penera, who has worked at Sky Chefs in West Seattle for five and a half years, told rally attendees, “We refuse to be invisible and we refuse to be silent. My coworkers and I are putting ourselves on the line to make sure that the laws passed in Seattle and SeaTac to protect workers actually serve workers like me who need them the most.”

Airline catering workers employed by Sky Chefs and Gategourmet in the City of SeaTac are not covered by the SeaTac hospitality living wage, and some are paid over $4 less than workers employed directly at the airport.

While Trump threatens immigrants, refugees and workers, and airline companies make record profits, the airline catering workers whose hard work supports the industry are speaking out to make our region’s ideals a reality.

Says UNITE HERE President D. Taylor: “We are in a political age where immigrants, women, and all workers are under constant attack. The dream of equal opportunity is at risk of being no more than just a dream. I’m proud that UNITE HERE hospitality workers serve their country every day by fighting for better standards for all workers, winning new protections for immigrant workers, mobilizing for real political power, and holding the richest corporations in the world accountable. Unions serve their country as a crucial answer in the fight against deepening racial and economic inequality in our country – and today is only the beginning of what UNITE HERE will do to take back our country.”

UNITE HERE Local 8 represents about 5,000 workers in the hospitality industries of Oregon & Washington State. Local 8 members work in hotels, restaurants, food service, and airport concessions. They include room cleaners, cooks, bartenders, bellmen, food and beverage servers, bussers, and dishwashers. Local 8′s parent union, UNITE HERE, represents hotel, food service, and gaming workers throughout the US and Canada.

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