Fernandez: Why hospitality workers are standing with Lisa Gillmor

    As Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor seeks re-election, the housekeepers, cooks and servers of UNITE HERE Local 19 are standing with her, because she has stood with us.

    If you work or play in Santa Clara, you’ve probably been served by one of our members. UNITE HERE Local 19 represents hotel workers at the Hilton Santa Clara, cafeteria members at Nvidia and Intel, and food service workers at Levi’s Stadium and the Santa Clara Convention Center. Hospitality industry jobs are typically low wage, but our members have fought to build a good standard in the city of Santa Clara.

    Gillmor has been a true champion for our members. She understands that the lifeblood of the hospitality industry in Santa Clara is its workers, and that as the industry grows it needs to create quality jobs. When Intel cafeteria workers lost their jobs when the company changed food service contractors, Gillmor led the council to support a worker retention ordinance for service workers to promote job stability in the industry. Since this ordinance passed, over 1,000 of our members have been able to keep their jobs as contractor changes took place at Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara Convention Center, and Nvidia.

    Gillmor continued to champion job security for hospitality workers during the pandemic. She led the charge to require a right to recall for hotel workers so that employees could get their jobs back as their hotels reopened. Gillmor also extended worker retention protections to hotel workers. As our members dealt with the health and economic burdens of the pandemic, it meant so much to them to at least know they had a right to return to work.

    As the hospitality industry returns from COVID, there are workers serving drinks, cleaning rooms and cooking food who still have their jobs today because of Gillmor’s leadership.

    It’s important to note that these types of job standards only exist in a handful of jurisdictions around the country. Santa Clara is the only city in Santa Clara County with a worker retention ordinance for hotel and food service workers. We are supporting Gillmor because she isn’t afraid to lead. She has the experience and determination to take action, and that’s the kind of leader service workers need in office.

    Finally, Gillmor has a vision for how the hospitality industry in Santa Clara can grow. She has secured a positive future for Santa Clara’s hospitality industry with the Related Santa Clara Project. This project will bring new hospitality jobs to Santa Clara, and Related has chosen to partner with our union.

    Hospitality workers are often overlooked and forgotten. We are called the “invisible workforce,” but we have never felt invisible to Gillmor’s council. She has always listened to us, worked with us, and championed us.

    We stand with Lisa.

    Enrique Fernandez is the business manager of UNITE HERE Local 19, a union that represents 4,500 hospitality workers throughout Northern California.

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