Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Justice for Disney workers

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The organizers of UniteHERE Local 11, the hotel workers' union, know a good thing when it comes to town. And if you want religious leaders who'll support low-wage Disney workers, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church is a very good thing.

Ada Briceno, an official from Local 11 of UNITE HERE, a Los Angeles-based union that includes hotel and restaurant workers, said they have been working without a contract since February 2008. Disney wants to replace the union-funded health plan with a corporate plan, she said, which in time, will cost a minimum-wage worker about $500 a month for insurance for a family. "These are low-paid workers, making on average about $11 an hour," she said.

Episcopal Life

Meanwhile, Disney is one of the most profitable corporations around and is hitting up the City of Anaheim to subsidize its expansion plansw.

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Every morning since we've been here, hotel workers have greeted us with sign up cards for a solidarity vigil and march that finally happened this afternoon.

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I escaped briefly from my tasks here to take a look at the demonstration. It sure was nice to find some of my favorite bishops hanging out with the organizers. Left to right, that's Briceno from Local 11, the Rev. Henry Atkins of Los Angeles, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, Bishop Barbara Harris, and Bishop Mark Beckwith.

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HERE provided monitors at the ready.

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And gradually the workers assembled.

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The bishop of Los Angeles prayed and encouraged while workers listened intently.

And then, before the march, which was reported by include over 1000 workers, I had to go back to my work. It was a nice solidarity break.

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