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Hotel Workers In Long Beach

CLUE-LA has been an active participant in the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, in partnership with Long Beach Clergy and Faith Community, LAANE, UNITE HERE Local 11 and several local congregations. For the past three years our campaign has shined a light on working conditions at the community-boycotted Hilton and Hyatt. During this time we have met multiple times with management, shared workers’ stories from the pulpits of local churches, and held a Stations of the Cross to highlight the cross-bearing and often devastating health effects of their jobs.

This spring we united with community partners to pursue a living wage for hotel workers in Long Beach. The City of Long Beach has invested $750 million to attract tourists, including $114 million in direct subsidies, but we understand that these investments are not being passed along to the workers.

We know that hotel workers are subject to harsh working conditions that often lead to medical problems. We have ensured clergy and community involvement, from speaking at church services and bible studies to recruiting volunteers to go door-to-door to gather signatures. The ordinance, if passed, would Campaign to bring justice to hotel workers and lift them out of poverty. Currently most hotel workers earn a monthly average salary of $1300.  This does not begin to cover basic expenses such as rent ($995), food ($400), transportation ($300) and utilities ($250); it’s easy to imagine how a medical emergency or other tragedy could devastate a working family.  We believe that the Living Wage would offer hope to the workers and their families, as well as provide opportunities for economic growth and job creation for all of Long Beach.

LAX Service Workers

As the gateway to Los Angeles, LAX is the first place most people see when they visit Los Angeles. It is also a huge job creator and economic engine for the communities it surrounds. In 2009, CLUE-LA along with a coalition of community and labor partners ensured passage of a critical health care amendment to the Los Angeles Living Wage ordinance. The amendment increased wages so that thousands of service workers including janitors, skycaps, baggage handlers, aircraft cabin cleaners and security personnel could pay for affordable health care. Now three years later the industry is still broken and the promise given by the Living Wage is failing LAX workers.

CLUE-LA along with our labor partners at SEIU-United Service Workers West are renewing a campaign for a strong LAX that supports its workers and the communities it surrounds. Currently, thousands of subcontracted workers serving major airlines are risking the productive years of their lives in unhealthy and unsafe working conditions. Additionally, like many areas CLUE-LA advocates around, LAX subcontractors also face unfair labor practices and intimidation as they attempt to freely organize. The enforcement of the Living Wage and its policies and healthy, safe and dignified working conditions are severely lacking. CLUE-LA will continue to stand by these workers and the communities they live in until everyone is treated fairly and truly respected as made in the image of God.

Westside Extension Subway

CLUE LA embarked on a campaign this spring to mobilize support for the Westside Subway Extension. This is a new effort to support public transit development, and partner with the Building Trades, which is suffering between 40-60% unemployment in the construction industry.

We see the subway as a vital development that will create an alternative for the 300,000 people who travel to and from the Westside everyday. We envision of a stronger, more just Los Angeles, and support efficient and affordable transportation, which will improve lives for working people; we know that faster commutes would allow more time for workers to eat dinner with their families, help their children with their homework, or kiss them goodnight in the evening.

The subway will help jumpstart our city’s recovery by creating thousands of good jobs. The Westside extension alone is forecasted to create 44,800 jobs, and the Project Labor Agreement will ensure that 40% of the hours worked on the project will be done by those who live in economically disadvantaged communities. This development will raise thousands out of poverty.

Our work has been to raise the community’s voice in support of the development, and reframe the discourse around public transit to be about greater equity, access and job creation. Labor and business are united in support of this development through our coalition, We Do Our Part LA. Our partners include Building Trades Council, LA Area Chamber of Commerce, JMB Realty, Teamsters Joint Council 42, and SEIU 1877. Together, our coalition is ensuring that the subway won’t get derailed again.

Car Wash Workers

CLUE, in partnership with the CLEAN Carwash Campaign (Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network), strives to help bring about industry-wide change for carwash workers. Carwashes have experienced very little oversight from enforcement agencies until recently, which has historically allowed carwash owners to disregard labor and environmental laws.

Working conditions for the 7,000-10,000 carwash workers or “carwasheros” are extremely exploitative and have caused some to label work in this industry as “modern day slave labor.”  Carwasheros often work 10 hours per day, 6 days a week, with minimal breaks, for less than minimum wage.   Carwash workers are also subject to health and safety hazards such as constant exposure to water and to dangerous chemicals without protective gear.

After a long, hard struggle, there have been 3 big victories celebrated recently in this campaign.  These victories have been realized in great part because of the community solidarity that has come together to support local carwash workers.   In addition to raising working standards in the industry in general, workers and owners of three carwashes in the area have signed union contracts.  These contracts promise to uphold all wage and hour, health and safety laws and grant the workers union recognition with the United Steel Workers (USW) Union.  The first of the contracts, Bonus Carwash in Santa Monica was celebrated in October 2011, while the other two triumphs at Vermont Carwash and Navas Carwash in South LA were signed in January 2012.  As people of faith, we trust that this is just the beginning of the movement for wide range change in the Carwash industry.  We will continue to stand in solidarity with these workers to demand what we know is right and just.

Please check out this video from New America Media to see more about the carwasheros and their struggle!

Food Service Workers

How our food finds it way to our table matters, and those who labor for our food matter—this is why we must approach food production and consumption, like all things, though the lens of justice. People of faith are joining the struggle to ensure that those who work in food service are treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. Food service workers often complete the workload of 2-3 people, all too frequently working without breaks or off-the-clock to finish their job responsibilities. As a result this workload, many workers experience high injury rates, leading to debilitating injuries. CLUE LA challenges the food service industry to provide adequate training, and safe working conditions, as well as to treat its workers with the respect and dignity that they deserve. This past year, students, faculty, and clergy walked with workers at Cal Lutheran University as they organized for union recognition.  Food Service workers at Cal Lutheran voted overwhelmingly to unionize so that they could negotiate for better wages, healthcare, and a voice on the job.

At Pomona College, Dining Hall Workers have faithfully served the college by feeding students, faculty, and the administration. Many have been serving for decades. The Dining Hall Workers are demanding a fair process in which to organize because, as members of the community, they too deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. CLUE-LA stands with these brave workers as they organize for a more just workplace.

Las Vegas Culinary Workers

Station Casinos operates 18 casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada, including 10 large hotel-casinos, and it is the third-largest private employer in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.   CLUE-LV in partnership with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 have played a central role in supporting thousands of workers in their fight for a fair process and dignity in the workplace.

Last fall, clergy wrote a letter to the owners of Station Casinos signed by 33 religious leaders expressing their deep concern about the treatment of workers at Station Casinos after the company was found in a recommend decision by an NLRB Administrative Law Judge to have broken federal labor law eighty-seven (87) times, which would make them the worst labor law-breaker in the history of Nevada gaming.  The company has appealed the decision.  Having received no response, clergy delegated the corporate headquarters of the company.  Since then, they have regularly prayed with workers, reminding them that God walks with them in this fight for Justice.

Most recently, clergy accompanied workers as they delivered a fair process petition with a majority of workers’ signatures in Culinary and Bartenders union classifications to the doors of the company’s flag ship casino.  The company to date has refused the workers’ demand.  For this reason, on April 18, 2012 twelve Station workers and five union members began a seven-day fast outside one of the ten casinos.  Clergy came to the fast line at the casino to lead morning and evening prayers, bible studies, and a Sunday church service in the streets.  At the breaking of the fast, clergy gave bread and juice to the fasters and then wheeled them on a delegation to the casino’s entrance where they met a company executive.  The company has still not agreed to respect the workers’ request for a fair process for deciding whether to have union representation.

Long Beach Ports Workers

CLUE-LA’s other Long Beach organizing campaign, our Ports campaign seeks to bring economic and environmental justice to Port truck drivers and the communities that surround the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. 10,000 plus truck drivers operate at the two Ports, which collectively make up the largest Port complex in America and deliver 40% of U.S. imports. Until recently, these drivers operated old, polluting rigs that contributed to very high rates of asthma, heart disease and related illnesses. With the advent of the Clean Trucks Program, the old rigs are now being exchanged for cleaner trucks.  Unfortunately, because of poor political leadership in Long Beach and trucking industry lawsuits, the cost of new trucks which cost upwards of $200,000 are being put on the backs of under paid and disrespected drivers.

In response, our clergy and lay committee has met with political leaders, attended driver committee meetings, written letters to local media outlets and participated in large, national online mobilizations to support progressive legislation aimed at bringing back dignity and respect to the drivers who are the backbone of our national economy. Most recently, our committee supported the first port truck driver union organizing drive and election-win in 30 years at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Employee drivers at Toll Group, an Australian-based company with warehouses and trucks in Southern California voted overwhelmingly to join the Teamsters. Our committee visited drivers at their Wilmington yard each week leading up to the election and attempted to hold Toll management accountable to fair organizing principles by leading multiple delegations and writing letters supporting drivers who faced intimidation. Toll driver and supporters like our Long Beach committee, are bringing a new day to the Ports, where future generations will have both clean air and economic justice.

Young Religious Leaders Project 

In January 2005, CLUE-LA began its Young Religious Leaders Project, building a community of students from seven colleges and seminaries. Today, the Young Religious

Leaders Project serves as a training program for young leaders interested in the work of economic justice. The project works with youth and young adults from local high schools, colleges, seminaries and rabbinical schools to train them to help eliminate working poverty in our community.

Through concrete organizing projects, direct action, and shared vision, our Young Religious Leaders learn firsthand about the reality of the working poor and how they can help transform our society together. The Project engages young leaders in many different activities, including summer and yearlong internships, community gatherings, public education, creative actions, and fellowship.

Our Immigration Work

At the heart of CLUE L.A.’s mission is to support and stand in solidarity with low-wage, working families. Many of these families are immigrant families, suffering under a complex, confusing, and punitive immigration code. Workers, who choose to organize a union, are often targeted for retaliation and intimidation. It is unfortunately not uncommon in our work to hear heart-wrenching stories from workers about employers who have threatened them on the basis of their immigration status during organizing campaigns. Just this past year, on the eve of Thanksgiving, 16 long-term workers were profiled and fired from Pomona College’s dining halls for their immigration status. They just also happened to be in the midst of an intense and difficult union organizing drive. Many of them were worker leaders. All of them were hurt, humiliated, and dismissed with apparently little care for their future or respect for their past dedicated service.

CLUE LA continues to herald the call for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together, offers opportunity and hope to young people, and respects working people. Our past support of national and statewide policy work: The Dream Act, and the New Sanctuary Movement, have showed us the power and potential of the interfaith community’s role in bringing about this change. As we move forward in our work, we will be joining hands with trusted leaders in the movement. We believe that the interfaith religious community has a unique and prophetic role to play in calling, once and for all, for comprehensive immigration reform. This is not just a legal issue- it is a moral, social, and family issue. CLUE-LA will act, and we hope you will join us on the journey.