As we travel around the Monterey Peninsula, we find lots of people who understand the importance of paying all workers a living wage. They know that when people aren’t making enough to pay rent, they will be living five families to a house, sleeping in cars, and camping in the woods and that the taxpayers will be struggling to provide subsidized housing for them. They know that when people don’t have access to health insurance, they will suffer in silence, failing to seek care until their problems have become severe – and severely expensive to the public.
The people we meet are well aware that the businesses creating these problems and injustices are essentially living off the public dole, as the taxpayers try to fill the gap between what they pay and their employees’ actual, inescapable costs of living. People are even aware that mistreating employees in this way is usually NOT an economic necessity.
The hospitality industry on the Monterey Peninsula is a good example. While some hospitality businesses provide health care, pensions and decent pay, others seem comfortable leaving their employees to scrape by on whatever public and private assistance they can find. People understand how inequitable this is, but they seem strangely paralyzed when it comes to doing anything about it.
For more than 3 years now, the struggle for decent wages and benefits has centered on the Monterey Bay Travelodge where the owner has taken away health care and pension benefits, eliminated paid lunch breaks and frozen wages at less than $9.00 per hour. In response, the workers and their union, UNITEHERE Local 483, have called for a boycott of the Travelodge and have been picketing on a weekly basis.
They haven’t been completely alone. Dozens of local residents have turned out to march with the workers year in and year out – over 1,000 people all told, including professionals, elected officials and workers from other hotels. But that isn’t cutting it. Travelodge owner, Kilsoo Seo, of Bethel Alaska obviously doesn’t care what a few hundred or even a thousand of us think.
There must be tens of thousands of people on the Monterey Peninsula who want to live in a community where working people aren’t held in poverty and expected to rely on public assistance. This would be a good time for those people to step out of their comfort zone, turn up on the picket line, and let Kilsoo Seo know that this community will not tolerate his efforts to drive his employees into poverty.
Contact UNITEHERE for more information.