FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 13, 2023
Contact: Ted Waechter [email protected]
Workers at Chinese State-Owned Hotel in San Francisco Strike After Outsourced Employee Meals Make Workers Sick
BEI Hotel Workers Launch Unfair Labor Practice Strike as APEC Arrives in San Francisco; Union Says Strike Illustrates Dangers of Globalization
San Francisco, Calif. — Seventy workers with the UNITE HERE Local 2 union are on strike at the BEI Hotel San Francisco, a Chinese state-owned hotel where workers say they suffered food poisoning after the hotel unilaterally laid off its cooks and outsourced cafeteria meals. The BEI is a 400-room hotel owned by the Beijing Tourism Group, a Chinese state-owned enterprise managed by a subsidiary of the government of Beijing. Pictures of food served in the BEI Hotel employee cafeteria are available here.
The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike concerns the hotel’s unilateral outsourcing of food and beverage operations. The union says that at least four workers have suffered diarrhea, stomach pain, or other symptoms of food poisoning since the hotel unilaterally laid off its cooks and outsourced cafeteria meals in May of 2023. The limited-duration strike will last five days, and picket lines will run from 6am to 10pm daily outside the hotel on 8th St. and Market St.
“I’m on strike because I recently worked two back-to-back shifts and during the entire 16 hours, I did not eat the cafeteria food because I was worried it would make me sick,” said Nida Remigio, a telephone operator at the BEI Hotel San Francisco for 16 years. “Employee meals at the BEI Hotel sometimes sit out for hours without time or temperature control. The food is often cold or covered in oil, and I have even found undercooked meat.”
The strike occurs during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which promotes business interests in the Pacific Rim. The union says that the BEI Hotel’s mistreatment of its workers illustrates the dangers of globalization.
“The Chinese state-owned enterprise that controls the BEI Hotel isn’t giving San Francisco workers a better life. Instead, the hotel unilaterally terminated its in-house cooks and served outsourced cafeteria food that made workers sick,” said Anand Singh, President of UNITE HERE Local 2. “We need an economy that benefits the world’s housekeepers, cooks, and dishwashers – not just the CEOs.”
BEI Hotel workers – including housekeepers, servers, bartenders, cooks, and dishwashers – say they have attempted to address the outsourcing of cafeteria food through meetings, petitions, and mediation before deciding on a strike. UNITE HERE Local 2 has filed unfair labor practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board protesting the BEI Hotel’s unilateral elimination of union jobs.
The ULP strike over the outsourcing of food and beverage operations comes as the hotel and the union are engaged in protracted negotiations over other issues. Workers at the BEI Hotel have not received a raise in six years. Every other major union hotel in San Francisco agreed to two consecutive contract agreements in 2018 and 2022, and the BEI is the only one that has refused to sign. Hotel management and the union have met regularly for negotiations, but the hotel demanded concessions including job cuts and outsourcing.
UNITE HERE Local 2 is the hospitality workers’ union in the San Francisco Bay Area, representing over 15,000 workers in hotels, restaurants, food services, Oakland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and more.