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7/20 - Ben Davis Workers Walk Off Job, SF Board of Supervisors Passes Resolution

by upton sinclair (irlandeso [at]
Workers, legislators, and allies call on Ben Davis to respect the new minimum wage, restore workers’ benefits, and negotiate fairly with UNITE HERE.
San Francisco - Ben Davis workers walked off the job and demonstrated at City Hall today for the second time in less than three months. City Supervisors Chris Daly, Sophie Maxwell, and Matt Gonzales, UNITE HERE officials, the Chinese Progressive Association, and labor and community supporters joined them in demanding that Ben Davis respect San Francisco’s new minimum wage rate and the workers’ union, and maintain workers’ benefits.

“This month the company cut my health benefits and took away my sick days,” recounted Wai Wong , who has worked at Ben Davis for 8 years. “Ben Davis says this is because of the new minimum wage. I say, why should I have to choose between a decent wage and basic benefits? I deserve both for my hard work.”

Later, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling on Ben Davis to restore health care benefits and paid time off to the workers, and to negotiate a contract with their union, UNITE HERE. “Last Fall, recognizing the Bay Area is one of the most expensive areas of the country, the electorate of San Francisco voted overwhelmingly to raise the minimum wage to $8.50,” explained Supervisor Chris Daly. “Today’s resolution seeks to uphold the intent of the law: providing the City’s lowest wage earners with decent pay without losing benefits.”

In October, 2003, the workers at Ben Davis voted to be represented by UNITE HERE [formerly known as UNITE]. During contract negotiations, Frank Davis, the owner of Ben Davis, proposed cuts to health care and paid time off, using the new local minimum wage of $8.50 as justification. The Ben Davis workers overwhelmingly rejected this proposal and have authorized work actions against the company up to and including a strike.

Frank Davis responded by unilaterally demanding that workers immediately begin paying 20% of their health insurance costs. Over the last month, in an attempt to badger and intimidate the workers, he began cutting health coverage for workers who refuse to pay this amount.

UNITE HERE is North America’s union for garment, laundry, apparel, hospitality, and gaming workers. The union represents nearly half a million workers.

Ben Davis Inc.-maker of workwear and work fashions-has been a unionized San Francisco employer since 1935. It currently employs nearly 100 workers, mostly Chinese and Latino immigrants.
and about the reality that people need to really be making more than just $8.50 per hour, the current minimum wage in SF, to get by in SF.
Sophie Maxwell represents the Bayview Hunter's Point neighborhood that the Ben Davis factory is located in, and she is also facing a recall election because of a vocal opposition in her district that thinks she is not doing enough to get jobs and encourage better jobs in her district.
them being the garment workers that produce Ben Davis products and earn him the money that turned him into the greedy person that he is today.
and what its like to be a working person in the city of San Francisco. McGoldrick represents a district where a lot of working class folks still live and a lot of Chinese folks in particular.
This is one of the new leaders that has recently stepped up to take the place of one of the other workers who was an amazing leader of the chinese garment workers at Ben Davis, but passed away recently and made sure that the other workers at Ben Davis would carry on the struggle for justice on the job.
sign in the background is in spanish, but you can't really read it due to the strange lighting and small writing on the sign. Sorry, I tried to adjust it a little bit in photoshop, but you still can't read the sign that well.
the Ben Davis workers in their struggle for a decent contract and decent health care coverage.
and helping to organize the mono-lingual Chinese garment workers at Ben Davis and support them within the Chinese community and beyond.
Freedom School youth were in attendence at the rally and were visiting the Chinese Progressive Association before the rally.
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