By Doug Porter
Twenty people were arrested Friday evening during a protest at the HiltonMissionValley hotel during a protest stemming from the refusal of management to take step to protect employee jobs during the sale of the property. Tarsadia investments is currently negotiating to buy the location.
Those arrested included hotel workers, family members, clergy and community advocates. The hotel has been the focus of organizing efforts by union advocates for months now. Employees were recently forced to re-apply for their jobs by the current owner, HEI Hotels and Resorts, a move aimed at breaking the back of a burgeoning employee organizing effort.
Employees were told by management on January 13th that they face mass layoffs. The hotel filed notice with the state of its intention to lay off workers on under the state’s WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) system run by the Employment Development Department.
Working conditions at the hotel have been subject of a number of labor protests. Approximately 25% of the workforce at the property filed claims with the State Labor Commissioner for alleged wage theft and other violations of state law last August.
“My daughter was arrested today, standing up for our family,” said Laura Garcia, a room attendant at the hotel. Laura is baffled by the hotel’s refusal to stand with hard-working employees such as herself and her husband, who both have worked there for two years.
My income provides for my three daughters,” said Jorge Marengo, a banquet houseman and two-time Employee of the Month at Hilton Mission Valley. “We are here because we asked HEI to do like many hotel owners do, ensure that the new owner will hire all of us.”
On March 6, hotel employees will find out if they will be fired. Workers have made moves to speak with the new owners, who have thus far refused to provide an answer that will enable these families to plan for their financial future.