Marlins Stadium Concession Workers Win Union

UNITE HERE Local 355, south Florida’s hospitality workers union, is pleased to announce that well over 800 new Marlins Park food service workers have chosen to unionize. Employed through Levy Restaurants, the designated concessions operators, the workers are excited to be union members and are eager to start negotiations.

Jamail Taylor, a food runner at the stadium is one of those workers. “I grew up here. I’ve worked hard and have worked in a stadium before. This time around, we all decided we needed to do more. We have to stick together to make sure we have access to fair wages, job security and that we’re treated with respect.”

Wendi Walsh, the President of UNITEHERE Local 355 agreed. “We’re entering a new era in Florida employment. Business and community must stop referring to Florida as a haven for low-wage jobs. Better stadium jobs improve the economy on all levels. Congratulations to all the Marlins food service workers who organized themselves and joined the struggle for all workers in South Florida,” she said.

Marlins workers will soon negotiate their contract with the hospitality operator. “Levy signed an agreement saying they will not disrupt the organizing efforts of their workers. They held true to their commitment,” said Andy Madtes, President of the South Florida AFL-CIO and Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 355. He added, “We are hopeful that their good faith efforts will extend to negotiations. Equally important, today’s victory sends a message to all employers – particularly those in hospitality to stay true to their agreements with workers and the community. Marlins workers see the connection between their jobs and the jobs of their fellow workers in hotels, airports and casinos.

“When we organized, my co-workers and I talked about real issues: unemployment, education, housing, civil rights and good jobs, all principles in the Florida Freedom Charter. This is more than just good jobs for me and my co-workers. This is about a plan to address the real challenges and struggles we all go through. Go Marlins, go South Florida!” said Lamont Byrd, a stand lead at the new stadium.

With the addition of Marlins Stadium, UNITE HERE Local 355 now represents over 5,400 casino, hotel, airport concessions and food service workers in South Florida.

Contracts Settled!

Already in 2011 we have settled contracts at HMS Host and Gulfstream Casino/Racetrack.

Host workers fought hard, doing petitions, delegations, leafleting, and more to win a good contract. We voted NO on the first offer and went back to the table even stronger. Finally, we maintained our free health care, got wage increases, and very important improvements in our scheduling language.

At Gulfstream, we maintained our health care at the same minimal cost and held on to all of our rights. Now we must unionize the other casinos.

Congratulations, Nathan’s Workers!

To our newest union members at Nathan’s working for Concessions International at Miami International Airport.

These brave workers recently joined the union and are on the verge of their first contract!

Nearly 100 Union Leaders Kick Off Summer Program

On May 17, an all-day convention was for all union leaders. This will be a BIG summer where we will take on issues that affect all of us and our families, including:

  • Fights for respect and better treatment at work
  • Immigration policy
  • Good, affordable education for ourselves and our children.
  • How to meet the rising costs of gas, food, housing
  • We must join hands with other organizations who are fighting for social justice!

Immigration Victory For Haitian Workers

On May 17, 2011, the Obama administration announced the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants through January, 2013. This announcement followed months of lobbying by immigration groups and labor unions – including UNITE HERE. With so many Haitians affected by the earthquake in January 2010, this change brings an important protection for thousands of UNITE HERE members in Florida. More information is available at www.uscis.gov/tps.

Workers call on Gulfstream to negotiate a fair contract

Gulfstream workers Shakira Priestley and Isaiah Derilus are joined by Jose Delgado from the Miami Beach Resort and other Local 355 members.

Gulfstream workers Shakira Priestley and Isaiah Derilus are joined by Jose Delgado from the Miami Beach Resort and other Local 355 members.

On December 9, workers from Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino were joined by over 200 casino, hotel and airport workers and members of UNITE HERE Local 355. The members held an evening rally calling on Gulfstream to bargain a fair contract.

Despite the downturn in the economy, South Florida’s gaming industry is performing remarkably well. Revenues are up since new gaming regulations went into effect in July. Included in the new regulations: the reduction of slot taxes from 50% to 35%, high-limit poker and increased operating hours. “I’ve definitely seen more visitors coming in. Work is busier and people seem to be spending more – it’s a good sign,” said Thurman Lennon, a cook at Gulfstream and member of Local 355’s elected leadership.

Unfortunately, Gulfstream is proposing drastic cuts: a 12-month wage freeze, cuts in holiday pay and cuts in vacation time. In this economy, workers agree that these cuts would have a devastating effect on hundreds of South Florida families. Local 355 member and Gulfstream cook Miguel Lizarraga understands what is at stake: “We can’t go backwards, and that is what the company is proposing. We need to stand strong for a good contract; one that we can all be proud of.”