Half Moon Bay Ritz Workers Form Union

Supportive Pastor Instructed them in Catholic Social Teaching

When hotel workers at the Ritz-Carlton in California’s Half Moon Bay, many of them recent immigrants, decided they wanted to form a union, the company hit back – hard. Several of the workers were parishioners at nearby Our Lady of the Pillar Parish, and they turned to their Pastor, Fr. Jose Corral.

After meeting with the workers and hearing their stories, Fr. Corral reflected on Catholic Social Teaching and then penned a remarkable letter to the group, explaining…

To all my concerned Parishioners regarding protecting your family by promoting a more secure and prosperous common life: The Roman Catholic Church has a long history of supporting workers and workers’ rights dating back two centuries to Pope Leo XIII. The Church’s teachings tell us we are to support the dignity of every human including those that provide us with our basic needs whether it be providing our tables with fruits & vegetables or providing a myriad of services from hospitality, cooking and serving food at our restaurants… I feel obliged to communicate to you, your right to organize and ask for workplace protections through representatives. Unions are a way for workers to negotiate for just wages, benefits and better working conditions, and to look after the rights of vulnerable workers…

The letter was exactly what the workers needed to take courage and exercise their rights. The workers voted 110 to 103 to form a union and join UNITE HERE Local 2. Congratulations to the Ritz-Carlton workers, and please pray for their speedy success in winning a just contract!

To read Fr. Corral’s letter in its entirety, CLICK HERE.

Wage Theft, Discrimination against Women Workers Found on Amazon Construction Site

Amazon has made headlines recently for fighting its own workers seeking to organize in unions at distribution centers in Alabama and New York. It turns out that workers’ rights aren’t necessarily respected on Amazon construction sites either, as a group women workers learned while finishing drywall at a new Amazon distribution center in Beltsville, Maryland.

A notorious open shop contractor, Avena, had the contract for framing and drywall, but relied on a series of labor brokers to staff the work. The women told IUPAT union organizers and Catholic Labor Network field representative Guillermo Martinez that an Avena drywall superintendent named Brian Bueso had been harassing them and treating them differently than the men. “He would follow everything that I would do and would always be behind me,” explained one of the finishers, Maria Sagrario Garcia. “He prohibited us from going to the bathroom.” When the women complained about his behavior to the general contractor, Bueso told their labor broker that he wanted all the women removed from the job.

Consulting with the union, the women learned that they were also victims of extensive wage theft. With the project running behind, they had been working 72-hour weeks for two months – and had never been paid time and a half. The union estimates that the workers are owed more than $50,000 in lost wages.

With help from the IUPAT, the women have filed a wage theft claim with the Maryland Department of Labor – and a sexual discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).