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Workers’ Dignity 2014 Annual Report

Workers’ Dignity in Action: Accelerating the Just Hospitality Campaign

Dear Friends,

Serving on the Steering Committee of Workers’ Dignity, we have had the opportunity to support other workers organizing for justice. In 2014, we witnessed several advances in the Just Hospitality campaign. Housekeepers won victories in an industry where many are denied their minimum rights as workers. Women, many of whom are mothers struggling to provide for their families, have played a central leadership role.

Workers’ Dignity stands as a voice for everyone who the employers have tried to keep in the darkness. We are like a school that uses educational workshops and builds relationships with worker centers and other organizations to organize our coworkers to solve problems facing our communities. We are confident that this snapshot of our victories in 2014 will inspire you to help us further grow.

Mariana López & Ricardo Flores

Our Mission: We are a worker-led center organizing for economic justice and dignity for all!

Just Hospitality Campaign

In 2014, Workers’ Dignity expanded Just Hospitality, our multi-year campaign to qualitatively improve wages and conditions among Nashville cleaning workers. In February, 11 housekeepers shook the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel in the downtown tourist district, winning our first major victory of the year. Housekeepers won over $13,000 in unpaid wages and a hotel policy change that increased wages and benefits by anestimated $120,000 per year for about 30 workers.

“This was possible because we acted together, and made our work valued, we have rights as workers and need to be respected.” – Natalia Polvadera, DoubleTree housekeeper

In September, after a series of protests in front the Super 8 Airport Hotel to support one of our members, management conceded defeat. The company replaced the general manager, paid $4,400 in stolen wages, and offered a modest wage increase to housekeepers, boosting wages of 10 workers by a total of over $15,000 per year.

“This victory is for all workers at the hotel. They treated us wrong for so long at Super 8 and it wasn’t until I joined Workers’ Dignity and we stood up united that Super 8 decided to change.” – Froylán, member and hotel worker.

In October, housekeeping and laundry workers at the downtown Sheraton Hotel joined Just Hospitality after a cleaning agency hired by Sheraton did not pay a full month of wages. After four actions and other public pressure, 10 workers won the full wages they had demanded in December.

The victory was the final of several gains, including

  • Owners paid a portion of unpaid wages to about 50 workers after Workers’ Dignity held our first protest at the hotel (estimated $25,000 – $35,000).
  • Management fired Sheraton’s general manager.
  • The Sheraton and Holiday Inn Express Downtown owner changed its employment policy. Housekeepers and laundry staff now receive a modest benefit package, including paid time off. Wage and benefit increases, conservatively estimated, total about $234,000 for 75 workers.

We know that this injustice is not a one-time thing. We know this happens to other workers elsewhere. And we will continue standing up.” – Fanny, member and Sheraton housekeeper
Cleaning workers held two assemblies to discuss common challenges, employer retaliation, and a list of demands for a Cleaning Workers Bill of Rights they will sign and publicly announce in 2015.

Members and Volunteers

In 2014, 100 low-wage laborers joined Workers’ Dignity as members. They organized coworkers to win back over $90,000 in stolen wages and improve pay and benefits in three hotels by $368,000 per year!

Workers’ Dignity expanded our Defend Your Rights trainings held in English, holding 12 workshops at the homeless shelter Room in the Inn, two historically Black churches, and in our organizing center. In December, we launched monthly membership meetings led by African American and other English-speaking members. This came on the heels of members’ trip to the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice in New Orleans to learn first-hand how they have built a multi- racial center that includes STAND with Dignity, a Black worker group.

 Left, Workers’ Dignity member Chris facilitates a workshop. Above right, group photo after the second session.
Youth, Art, and Social Change

Youth, Art, and Social Change

Young people joined a 3-day workshop during winter break to make art social change. They wrote poetry, created posters, stenciled, painted, and made and played drums.

Women, Art, and Justice

Launched in 2013, we have continued bi-monthly gatherings to share experiences, skills, and activities among leaders and emerging leaders who are women.

Summer Leadership.

Evan and Rosa were the first members to join our 12-week summer organizing program, which included trainings, outreach to cleaning workers, and strategy development.

Join us!

Membership is open to all low-income workers who embrace our mission. We also seek allies as volunteers. There are many ways to pitch in. Contact us and learn more!

Steering Committee (Board) Members in 2014

Abraham Solomon, Aurelia Solano, Daniel López, Jairo Robles, John Taylor, Mariana López, Ricardo Flores, Patronilio García Reyes, Ben Wibking, Patrick Cate, Sara Zavaleta, Sarah Passino, Tristan Call.

Summer Leaders: Evan Regis, Rosa Ponce (12-week paid internship)

Organizers:

Brenda Pérez, brenda@workersdignity.org, 615-669-6679
Cristina Condori, cristina@workersdignity.org, 615-450-6522
Jack Willey, jack@workersdignity.org, 615-669-5351
Mario Mercado, mario@workersdignity.org, 615-601-2820

Training and Leadership Development

Training is a cornerstone of our work. 2014 highlights include:

Defend Your Rights
Over 600 workers were trained on how to defend their rights on the job. Eight members co-facilitated the workshops.

“Simply knowing our rights is not enough. We need to know that the key to defending our rights is unity. These workshops are spaces for us to explore ways to defend our own rights and gain confidence in solidarity with other workers.” – Kelly, member and former housekeeper

TN Workers Rising

Workers’ Dignity co-facilitated Tennessee’s first-ever bilingual worker organizing institutes, training 60 workers in Nashville and Knoxville in the spring and fall.

2nd Annual Justice Schools

30 workers participated in summer Justice Schools addressing root causes of economic exploitation and racial oppression, and social movements organizing for change.

Solidarity

Members stood with Black youth who led a series of local protest actions against racism and police brutality in the wake of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others. We joined with fast food workers from Show Me $15 who led strikes in several Nashville restaurants. We also expanded the coalition of community and labor organizations who joined the 2nd Annual Labor Day Parade, launched by Workers’ Dignity in 2013.

2014 Income and Expenses


 

 

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Workers’ Dignity 2015 Winter News Letter

Sheraton Victory at Last!

Sheraton housekeepers and laundry workers announced a major victor. On Jan. 3, after a months-long campaign, including four protest actions and preparations for a federal lawsuit, Sheraton management paid 10 workers the full amount of wages they have been demanding since August 2014. Workers won other demands as well. The General Manager was fired and management changed their personnel policy. Current employees at Sheraton and Holiday Inn Express report increased wages and benefits by an estimated total of $234,000 per year for 75 workers.

Super 8 Campaign a Success!

After a series of protest actions in front the Super 8 Airport Hotel, member Froylán Rodriguez (above) won $4,400 in stolen wages in October. Housekeepers report that hotel owners replaced the General Manager and increased wages from $2.50/room to $2.75/room for all housekeeping staff.  “This is victory for all workers at the hotel. They have treated us wrong for so long and it wasn’t until I joined Workers’ Dignity and we stood up united that Super 8 decided to change” – Froylán

Housekeepers Announce Wage-Theft at West End Courtyard Marriott


Several of the former Sheraton housekeepers also announced a campaign to recover unpaid wages for work at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel near Vanderbilt University. “I hope that Courtyard Marriott Management hears us and pays us our wages” – Mariela Pineda, former housekeeper at the Courtyard by Marriott Vanderbilt/West End


Just Hospitality Victories!


Workers’ Dignity member Norma, with Kelly, after she recovered unpaid wages from Courtyard Marriot in Cool Springs in October.


Worker’s Dignity members Ricardo and Kelly joined with Veronica to win back unpaid wages from a convenience store in November.

Solidarity with Black Lives Matter & Ayotzinapa


Worker’s Dignity members and supporters have stood in solidarity with people of color who are confronting state violence in the U.S. and Mexico. Members have joined protests sweeping Nashville in response to police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and other members of the Black community. Members initiated a candlelight vigil in solidarity with the movement in Mexico demanding justice for the 43 teaching students disappeared by authorities in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

Tennessee Workers Rising


In November Worker’s Dignity and the Ironworkers Union facilitated the 2nd TN Workers Rising (left), a bilingual worker organizing institute, in Knoxville. 25 workers participated in the 2-day training. In October, members and organizers visited the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice to learn from their experiences of building a multi-racial workers movement.


Welcome, Cristina!


In November, Cristina Condori joined the organizing team after years of helping lead immigrant and workers rights organizations in Memphis. Workers’ Dignity is hiring another organizer in early 2015. Help us continue to grow by becoming a monthly donor today! www.workersdignity.org/donate


Join The Fight!

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Sheraton Pays! Will you support housekeepers in their campaign at Marriott?

SHERATON PAYS!

Workers celebrate after months of direct action.

Sheraton housekeepers and laundry workers announced a major victory today for hospitality employees in Nashville. After a months-long campaign, including four protest actions and preparations for a federal lawsuit, Sheraton management paid ten workers the full amount of wages they have been demanding since August 2014.

Housekeepers announce wage-theft at  West End Courtyard MarriottSeveral of the former Sheraton housekeepers also announced a campaign to recover their unpaid wages from their work at a Courtyard Marriott hotel near Vanderbilt University.

“I hope that Courtyard Marriott Management hears us and pays us our wages”
-Mariela Pineda, former housekeeper at the Courtyard by Marriott Vanderbilt/West End

Stay tuned for more information on how to support these housekeepers as they fight for their wages!

Join The Fight!

  1. Become a Wage Theft Advocate
  2. Help mobilize for our next public action (TBA!)
  3. Pay our rent by becoming a monthly donor!
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Who Stole Christmas?

Join hotel workers for a Christmas march calling out the Grinches and Scrooges at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown! Bring your santa beards and elf shoes! Meet at Workers’ Dignity, 3013 Nolensville Pike, Nashville TN 37211 at 11:30AM this Saturday for last minute preparation and caravan. Action at 1:00PM in front of Sheraton Hotel, 623 Union St, Nashville Downtown. 

Over 40 workers who completed work at the Sheraton Hotel were not paid during their scheduled paydays in July and August.

Sheraton, one of the biggest luxury hotels in the state charges hundreds of dollars a night for a room, but many of the workers who cleaned those rooms have still not been paid.

After three protests of over 75 people each, many workers still have not been paid their full wages, and they have asked for allies to join them.

Come show your support for these workers who are standing up to the human rights crisis in the Nashville hospitality industry!

RSVP on our Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/575323389235805

For more information, see our website http://www.workersdignity.org or call (615) 669-5351

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Mega March Against Wage Theft at the Nashville Sheraton Downtown!

March from Stadium at Noon, Arriving at 1 PM!

Over 40 workers who completed work at the Sheraton Hotel were not paid during their scheduled paydays in July and August.Sheraton, one of the biggest luxury hotels in the state charges hundreds of dollars a night for a room, but many of the workers who cleaned those rooms have still not been paid.

After two protests of over 60 people each, many workers still have not been paid their full wages, and they have asked for allies to join them in front of the Sheraton Hotel (623 Union) for their biggest picket yet on Saturday November 15th at 1 PM!

Come show your support for these workers who are standing up to the human rights crisis in the Nashville hospitality industry!

(Join our Facebook event.)

Saturday Schedule:

  • 11 AM: Last minute prep at Workers’ Dignity (3013 Nolensville Pk)
  • Noon: Meet at the Titans Stadium (Parking Lot “R” at the base of the Pedestrian Bridge- 592 S 1st Street)
  • 1 PM: March arrives at Sheraton Downtown Hotel (623 Union Street)
if you didn’t catch it yet, check out the debut music video of Workers’ Dignity’s women’s group: “Mujer de Dignidad” (“Woman of Dignity”)!
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“WE DEMAND TO BE PAID IN FULL”: Open letter from hotel workers to Sheraton

Hot off the presses, this is the open letter from Workers’ Dignity Dignidad Obrera members who weren’t paid for their work at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown, after Sheraton management offered them checks substantially less than they are owed.


If you cleaned bathrooms and washed laundry in one of the wealthiest luxury hotels in the state, would you accept less than you agreed to?

People will be helping with preparations beginning at 8:30am and will carpool from Workers’ Dignity at 9:25am.

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Super 8 Pays, Will Sheraton do the Same?

Super 8 Pays Froylan!
Over 100 community members demonstrate in front of Super 8 
After two direct actions in front of Super 8 led by Froylan and his wife Lana, Super 8 management decided to pay. After several attempts to speak with management and no resolutions, Froylan decided that direct action is the way to go and over 100 members of the community supported including Jobs with Justice, Vanderbilt Students of Non Violence, United Campus Workers and others.

What a great birthday surprise for Froylan and Lana’s new daughter who was born just a few days before the September 27th action.

Sheraton Workers Demand Wages!
Over 30 workers not paid, announce march in front of hotel Saturday October 18th

Workers Dignity member, and former Sheraton worker  Neptali says “we worked for Sheraton and Its a big company and I don’t understand why they don’t want to pay us.”   Neptali, along with over 30 workers were not paid for work completed at Sheraton Downtown Nashville.  The team of workers have communicated with Sheraton management and requested a meeting with management, but management refused to meet.  On Thursday October 2nd the workers decided to request community support at a rally to demand their wages on Saturday October 18th at 10am in front of Sheraton.

Stay up to date at http://www.workersdignity.org

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Super 8 Keeps Stalling: Workers Need Your Support on Saturday, 4pm

Super 8 Protest on Saturday, 4pm

Bosses keep stalling, trying to get Froylan & community members to stop protests!

On Tuesday, one of the hotel owners Nishith Jobalia stated he had no intention of talking with Froylan about the wages he is owed. Today, Mark, the new General Manager, called several people trying to stall the protest action for Saturday.

Now is the time to turn up the heat! They are feeling the pressure, but still won’t do the right thing. Join Froylan tomorrow!

Saturday, 4pm
in front of Super 8, 720 Royal Parkway, Nashville

People will be helping with preparations at 2:30pm and carpool from Workers’ Dignity at 3:25pm.

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THIS SATURDAY: Protest Super 8: Worker Demands Over $4,000 in Pay

Join Action THIS SATURDAY Supporting Worker at Super 8

Stand with Froylan, Workers’ Dignity member & former Super 8 van driver owed nearly $4,400 in wages!

This Saturday, Sept 13, at 11am we will stand with Froylan in a protest action in front of the Super 8 Airport Hotel at 720 Royal Pkwy near Donelson Pk. If you want to help out, join in art-making and prep on Thursday, 6:30pm at our worker center or Saturday 9:45am, also at the center.

“For 4 years, I have been a driver for Airport Super 8,” said Froylan. “Even though all of my checks reflected 40 hours, I have worked as much as 84 hours in a week. I am owed more than $4000 in unpaid wages!”

Any questions, call us at 615-669-5351 or email info@workersdignity.org. Also check out our Facebook event page for up-to-date info.

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You are invited to our Labor Day Picnic and Parade! Two weeks away!

Two Week countdown until our Labor Day Picnic and Parade!

Fundraising and Celebration on Saturday August 30

Will you join Workers’ Dignity 3rd Annual Labor Day Celebration? Support cleaning workers taking a stand as part of the Just Hospitality at St. Edwards Catholic Church, 188 Thompson Lane, Nashville TN.

There will be food, there will be music, there will be fun. Get us to $10,000. We’ve raised $2,800 already!
The picnic follows the Labor Day Parade sponsored by Workers’ Dignity, Jobs with Justice and Central Labor Council.

See you there!

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