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Center Column Archives
On January 10th, IWW members and community allies staged an informational picket and rally to build energy towards what organizers think will be a protracted contract negotiation with Berkeley's Ecology Center. Management at the non-profit recycling center is looking to offer minor wage increases over the next two years, impose a wage freeze for the remaining three years of the new contract, and remove any employer-related benefit contributions. Workers have vowed to continue fighting against any and all concessions proposed by management of the company.
As the holiday season hit full force at the shopping/vacation destination of Carmel by the Sea, former La Playa Hotel workers continued to remain hopeful that some of those in attendance at a labor rally at the hotel on December 20th would receive back the jobs that they lost over a year ago. Since the hotel re-opened over the summer, only three of the former 113 workers have been re-hired.
On November 22nd & 23rd, Walmart workers and supporters demonstrated at the Richmond and San Leandro Walmarts as part of the national Black Friday protests against the nation's largest retailer. In San Leandro on November 22nd, Walmart threatened the use of the police to remove the protesters, including their own workers. On November 23rd, demonstrations were held in San Leandro and Richmond. Walmart workers spoke about the intimidation and terrorism on the job to silence them from speaking out and organizing.
After more than a dozen labor demonstrations at La Playa Carmel this summer which followed the announcement of a boycott of the hotel, community members had new answers to the question, "Is this working?" At a rally at the hotel held on September 28, Mark Weller of UNITE HERE Local 483, the hospitality union that represents workers in the Monterey Bay area, cited the recent contract approval negotiated for workers at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley as a victory for La Playa workers also.
According to Anna Bakalis from SEIU 1021, the management at the de Young museum is intimidating and using “anti-worker tactics” to make cuts to the salaries of the “least paid workers” employed there. On Friday, September 7th, members from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021 blocked the entrance to the de Young art museum in San Francisco. Nineteen people were arrested, and the attendees at the museum's “Friday Nights at the Museum” event were greeted with loud chants, singing, and civil disobedience.
On August 4th, a roving dance party with a large banner that read “Fuck The Permits, F.T.P., Fuck The Police” marched in solidarity with the vendors of Art Murmur. On July 6th, uniformed security officers had informed Art Murmur vendors that anyone without a permit would be ticketed, starting in August. Many vendors and artists ignored the threat of being ticketed, and set their tables in illegal spaces.
The third annual Festival del Nopal took place in downtown Santa Cruz on Sunday July 22. The festival featured many local food vendors using nopal, or prickly pear cactus, in a variety of cuisine such as pupusas, huraches, salad, tlayudas, baked potatoes, fries, and tacos. The event, founded and coordinated by City Councilmember Tony Madrigal, celebrates the significance of the nopal in Mexican cuisine and showcases the plant's versatility and healing properties.