Bay Area Service Workers Up in Arms
Twelve AT&T Park concession workers were arrested and another 50 were forcibly removed by police, during an act of civil disobedience on June 18, 2013. Workers sat down in front of one of the park’s most profitable concessions, Gilroy Garlic Fries, and prevented anyone from ordering food, while hundreds of supporters picketed outside the stadium.
Concessions workers voted on May 13 to authorize a strike and a boycott of food and beverage concessions at the park. “We sent a clear message today to Centerplate and the Giants, that we have the power we need to win a fair contract,” said Billie Feliciano, a concessions worker at Giants games since 1978.
Negotiations are at a standstill between Centerplate—the Giants’ subcontracted concessionaire—and the concession workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 2. Workers are seeking job security through a successorship clause, along with fair wage increases and improved health care. Centerplate is proposing to severely limit access to healthcare and to maintain a wage freeze for the last 3 years with a 25 cent raise for 2013 as well as another 25 cent raise for 2014.
“Job security is really important to me and my family. I travel two hours to come and serve Giants fans,” said worker Anthony Wendlberger. Without successorship language, if the concession contract changes hands all the workers employed at the stadium could lose their jobs.
In San Francisco, marches, civil disobedience, and a threatened strike won a new contract for 5,000 northern California security guards at the beginning of June. On June 6, nine security officers and supporters were arrested after they sat in and blocked an intersection in downtown San Francisco at the height of the afternoon rush hour. One guard, Jerry Longoria, said, “I live in a single room occupancy place. I have no kitchen, no bathroom, and the neighborhood is so bad I can’t even go out at night. People like me who work for a living should be able to afford at least a one-bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood.”
The union, Stand for Security, the security division of United Service Workers West, SEIU, said the new agreement made gains in wages, healthcare, paid sick days, and job protections.
Meanwhile, in Mountain View, security officers and supporters marched to the auditorium where the annual stockholders meeting of Google was being held. Two weeks later, the guards were back, this time with two busloads of participants from the Netroots Nation 2013 conference in San Jose.
The security union also protested the fact that Google uses a non-union contractor, Security Industry Specialists (SIS), which maintains conditions that make it hard for its employees to survive. One common complaint is that the company won’t give each guard enough hours to survive, and calls its system “flex time.” Lack of hours keeps the guards from qualifying for benefits and sick days.
David Bacon is a photojournalist and author of Illegal People—How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, and the forthcoming The Right to Stay Home, both from Beacon Press.