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After 20 years, HEI says I’m not good enough

My name is Oliverio Barcenas.  I have worked at Le Meridien for 22 years.  I work as a cook at the hotel. I take pride in my work and want to provide the best meal I can with the tools that I have.

I have been an active member of the union committee at this hotel because I do not like how I am disrespected.  When I was first hired, I started in the stewarding department.  Three years ago I was asked to cook.  I was excited about the opportunity.  However, my name has never been transferred to the cooks list even though I only cook.  What this means is that cooks who were hired after I was moved into the kitchen gets more hours than I do and a better schedule.  In fact, when I moved into the kitchen, my wages were reduced.

This is one of the reasons why last Friday, I stood with my co-workers, San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos and graduates of Harvard University to deliver a petition to management.  We delivered a petition from the committee expressing solidarity with the Boston workers who are now fighting alongside us.  Now I am concerned after I learned that Sonia and Thomas just said that my food is no good.  Is this a result of me standing up?

I share this story because I believe the hotel is being disrespectful to me and to my co-workers.  After 20 years of serving at Le Meridien, I am hearing for the first time that my work is being devalued.  I would love to cook good, quality, organic food for my co-workers, but the fact is the product we are told to cook for our coworkers is just not of that caliber.   Management should not put the blame on me for the poor quality of the food for the employees.  If management is trying to intimidate me because I stood up for what I believe, it won’t work.  I am going to continue to tell my story and encourage my coworkers to do the same. Our story is our power.

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