At 4 a.m. yesterday morning, workers at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose began to walk off the job. The picket lines grew as more workers arrived for their am shift and were informed “We're going on strike!” The 250 cooks, dishwashers, servers, bartenders, front desk agents, bellpersons, and room attendants at the Doubletree made history yesterday — it's the first hotel strike in San Jose in 36 years. They'll be on strike through midnight Thursday evening.
The Doubletree is owned by Hilton, which is part of Blackstone — a company that earned a tidy $1 billion in profit in the last six months, and has been expanding their hotel investments over the past few years. Yet Hilton has insisted on long-term wage freezes and underfunding its employees' health care.
What does that mean for the people that make the hotel run every day? The workers that I spoke with all talked about how they are struggling just to make ends meet in Silicon Valley. One worker, a phone operator named Ruth, spoke about how she supports herself and her husband who is disabled and cannot work. He also has a health condition that requires six different types of medication. Right now that medicine costs an affordable $75 every month. But she doesn't know what she'll do if there's a wage freeze or if her health care increases in cost dramatically.
Dolores Dominguez is another Doubletree worker — she has been a banquet server at the hotel for 9 years, and was instrumental in helping organize the union at the hotel 6 years ago. For her, the strike is about her family. She has a 4-year old boy that she currently can't afford to put into preschool, and another child on the way.
Ruth, Dolores, and their coworkers will be on strike until Friday, picketing from 6am to midnight every day with rallies at noon and 5pm. The hotel's address is 2050 Gateway Place, San Jose, CA 95110. Hope to see you on the picket line!