September 23, 2011
Delia Medina — Room Cleaner — Hyatt Regency — 37 years of service
We’re human beings. That was what I would say to the bosses whenever they were treating somebody badly. I would say, We’re human beings, like you. We’re not horses. You have to treat us like you’d like to be treated. That was my message for the bosses.
To the workers, especially the workers without a union, my message is: You don’t have to feel alone. Because all of us, we’re behind you. We’re defending all of our rights. Do not feel scared for nothing. For nothing. We have the union behind us.
I’m 83 years old. I have two sons, two daughters, eleven grandkids, and 2 great-grandkids. I was born in El Salvador. I was a secretary and worked in an office, before I came here. But I came here thinking about my kids, thinking they would have a better education, a better life. Things have worked out very well for me, but I feel terrible about how immigrants are treated in this country. It hurts me when I see the problems that the immigrants, even legal immigrants are suffering. Immigrants are not treated like other people. They’re always trying to go on, on, on, over us. Continue reading
August 16, 2011
Aurolyn Rush — 25 years — PBX Operator — Grand Hyatt
I get my ways from my grandmother. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been in the front of the line. I’m a leader, not a follower, and that’s just the way I am. I’m the kind of person that will tell people what’s right. I think this is something I get from my grandmother, who was a really strong woman. While I was growing up in New Orleans, she kept our household together. But when my grandmother died, my family split up and we all went our separate ways. My uncle and aunt left for Chicago and my mother and I stayed behind with my grandfather in New Orleans. I ended up coming to San Francisco after high school graduation.
Just like I get my ways from my grandmother, my granddaughter now is getter her ways from me. She’s three years old, and I can’t help spoiling her rotten. She’s my first grandchild, so we have this special bond between us. She’s just like me, very outspoken. She’s smart too, and if there’s something she needs she will ask for it. Continue reading
Sue Donahue — 21 years — Cook — Hilton Union Square
Sue Donahue, a cook and shop steward at the Hilton Union Square, is leading the charge to preserve San Francisco’s tradition of culinary excellence. As a twenty-one year veteran at the Hilton, Sue has witnessed the shift from local ownership of San Francisco hotels to multinational corporate control, a trend that has had serious implications for both the Hilton workers and the guests they serve.
“People used to come to San Francisco because the Fairmont had a fabulous pastry and that’s where you wanted your wedding cake made, or the St. Francis had beautiful banquets. Now the whole hotel industry has completely changed, and it’s very discouraging,” says Sue. “Management doesn’t care about quality. They hand you a banana and tell you it’s an apple. They think you believe that it’s an apple. And maybe some people do. But I was educated to be a chef, and our core belief is that you need to educate people about what good food should look like and taste like.” Continue reading
Ingrid Carp—30 Years—Station Cook—Hilton Union Square
“When you work together towards things, you’re able to accomplish them. But it takes discipline, you know. It really does.” 30-year Hilton Union Square cook Ingrid Carp was talking about her life with her partner of 18 years, Adán Sandoval, a fellow cook at the Hilton, but the same words could just as well apply to her decades as a union activist.
Ingrid joined Local 2 on September 4, 1980, her first day as pantry cook in the Hilton Union Square’s main kitchen. Her kitchen duties included preparing salads, hors d’oeuvres, and sandwiches. Since then she’s moved up the ranks to station cook for room service and the Urban Tavern, the hotel’s restaurant, a position that comes with more stability and responsibility. Although her current job is “very physical” and leaves her “very tired” by the end of the day, she likes the stable routine it affords, and she loves to cook. Continue reading
Bill Fung – 15 years – Housekeeping Supply Department – Hilton Union Square
Bill Fung didn’t want to immigrate to the United States.
“I had a really good life in my country,” he says, referring to the 27 years he lived in his native Guangzhou, China’s third largest city.
Bill had his own business and was dating his future wife, but he missed his family members, who had all immigrated to San Francisco and were encouraging him to join them. In 1990 he decided to make the move.
“I took it as a challenge to see if I could make a life for myself here,” he says. “And also, in my opinion, the past is the past. You can’t be thinking about it all the time.” Continue reading