Author Archives for Daria Ovide

Victoria is determined

Look to Nevada for hope—and lessons on how to win

November 11, 2016 2:17 pm Published by Leave a comment

Op-ed by President D. Taylor in the Guardian.

Victoria is determinedIt’s a tough time for many working people in the United States. Many of us are still reeling from the results of the November 8 election, in which our fellow citizens elected Donald Trump and allowed Republicans to keep control of both houses of Congress.

There were a few bright spots this week. Members of UNITE HERE were critical in keeping the battleground state of Nevada blue and defeating anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

We won those victories by focusing on the issues that matter to workers—those with a union and those without a union. Reaching out to all working people is the only way to build a big enough base to win. It sounds simple, but requires commitment and a long-term organization.

Click here to read the full piece

UNITE HERE Partners with AFL-CIO Working for America Institute as Part of $1.37 Million Apprenticeship Expansion Contract from DOL

September 23, 2016 5:34 pm Published by Leave a comment

HTA LAUNITE HERE will help implement part of a new $1.37 million contract between the U.S. Department of Labor and the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute to expand multi-employer apprenticeship programs in two important sectors with potential for job growth: manufacturing and hospitality.

UNITE HERE President D. Taylor said of the grant announcement, “This grant will help tremendously with our training efforts. UNITE HERE’s training programs are the foundation of helping our members achieve a middle class life and are great examples of how our members can advance with employers that participate and support these important training facility locations.”

Robust hospitality training programs in Boston, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas are key to UNITE HERE members moving forward and gaining new job opportunities in the hotel, food service and gaming industries.

Read more in the AFL-CIO Press Room

UNITE HERE members march during the 50th anniversary of the Selma civil rights march.

A Special Letter to the UNITE HERE Family: Our Commitment to Justice

May 1, 2015 10:33 pm Published by Leave a comment

UNITE HERE members march during the 50th anniversary of the Selma civil rights march.

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon and which cuts without wounding and enables the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Union is among the most militant in America.

Our members are people of all colors and immigrants from around the world. They’re brave people who left everything behind—whether escaping segregation in the Deep South; political persecution in Cuba and Central America; war in Africa; economic degradation in Haiti, the Philippines and Mexico; or old factory towns destroyed in our countries.

We are fighters. We are a union of people who fight for every inch of progress and against all forms of repression. We led the historic Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride. We were the first to endorse an African American candidate for President. We were the Union to demand African American hiring in our Union Contracts and an end to bigotry against our sisters and brothers in the LGBT community.

Police violence against unarmed African American men only reminds us of the images of Selma. And mass incarceration of men and youth of color exposes the travesty of the current criminal justice system.

But violence in response to violence is both unacceptable and counter-productive. It always leads to loss of those who are oppressed and reinforces the view of the oppressor.

We must all be reminded that militancy does not mean violence. And non-violence does not mean weakness.

Most of our Union’s leaders have taken to the streets, been arrested, but always held their ground: hands and fists raised in protest, but never in acts of violence.

We have an unfulfilled obligation to teach young and justifiably angry women and men how they can practice our kind of militant non-violence. Because we win. It works.

I am calling on our Union’s leaders throughout the United States and Canada to reach out in the communities we represent and share with all who want to learn from us and form a more just society.

Our Union stands strong in the face of injustice and exclusion and racism and sexism. Black lives matter. Immigrants’ lives matter. LGBTQ lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Workers’ lives matter. This has been our defining purpose as a Union all along: to fight for basic human rights and human dignity. And we must be more strongly committed to this fight than ever.


D. Taylor

Kaiser Permanente Kona workers in Hawai'i are on strike to stand up for patients & workers.

Kaiser Permanente Workers On Strike In Hawai’i

February 2, 2015 12:51 pm Published by Leave a comment

Kaiser Strike at Wailuku, MauiUNITE HERE Local 5 members who work at Kaiser Permanente have moved forward with their plans to go on strike for six days. The strike began at 12:01 AM Hawai’i time Monday.

On the island of Oahu, Kaiser workers will be picketing for six days at Kaiser’s facilities in Moanalua, Honolulu, and Waipio. Picket lines will also be organized on the island of Maui at Maui Lani and Wailuku, and on Big Island at Hilo and Kona.

Workers on strike are not discouraging patients from entering the facilities. In fact, they encourage patients to come the facilities for any services they may need, especially in the case of an emergency. Workers will be passing out leaflets to patients and community members to inform them about the decisions Kaiser has made that have negatively affected patient care, including closing Honolulu urgent care and laying off staff. Four one-day work stoppages have been organized since 2013

“When I first started working at Kaiser, we were trained to care for our patients like family. But with all of the cuts to staff, Kaiser is making it harder to provide that kind of care to our patients,” says Shanelle Simpliciano, a certified nurse’s aid at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua.

“Kaiser has changed for the worse since I started working here 17 years ago,” says Momi Hai, a lead front desk employee at Kaiser Permanente Maui Lani. “We’ve struggled with our jobs getting subcontracted, or our jobs getting cut completely. It has a real impact on workers and patients. Meanwhile, Kaiser makes $11 million a day. Kaiser is thriving, but what about us?”

Local 5 represents around 1900 Kaiser Permanente workers across Hawai’i. The strike will end on Saturday, February 7 at midnight local time.

Visit Local 5 on Twitter or Instagram for up-to-the-minute pictures and news.

Download the strike bulletin for Day 5: Friday, February 6, 2015

Download the strike bulletin for Day 4: Thursday, February 5, 2015

Download the strike bulletin for Day 3: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Download the strike bulletin for Day 2: Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Download the strike bulletin for Day 1: Monday, February 2, 2015

Maria Elena Durazo at UNITE HERE's 2014 convention in Boston

María Elena Durazo Named Most Valuable Local Labor Leader in 2014 by The Nation

December 29, 2014 3:41 pm Published by Leave a comment

Maria Elena Durazo joins UNITE HERE women at the Union's 2014 conventionUNITE HERE Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity María Elena Durazo was named Most Valuable Local Labor Leader by The Nation magazine in their 2014 Progressive Honor Roll.

María Elena was president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor from 2006 until coming to the UNITE HERE post in 2014. She also previously served as president of UNITE HERE Local 11 in Los Angeles, which she helped build into one of the most active unions in the county.

Read the entire Honor Roll at The Nation.

Members of UNITE HERE Culinary Union 226 in Las Vegas, along with union President D. Taylor, witness President Obama's announcement of executive action on immigration November 21, 2014.

We Need a New Brand of Courage

November 25, 2014 8:57 pm Published by Leave a comment

This piece was originally published on the Huffington Post on November 25, 2014

Members of UNITE HERE Culinary Union 226 in Las Vegas, along with union President D. Taylor, witness President Obama's announcement of executive action on immigration November 21, 2014.I am not going to add my voice to the post-election blame game. I’ve read all the excuses. Seen all the finger pointing. And heard all promises about how things will be different in 2016. Better Senatorial map. Presidential year turnout.

I will confine my criticism to a post-election analysis offered by the staff of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee: “The Democrats forgot their base.”

The result was Democratic voters staying home. They voted with their feet. Their tired feet. In my experience, people will give you what you give them. Democrats were afraid of losing their opportunity to stay in office—and ran scared. The results speak for themselves.

But last week’s action on immigration by the President signals a new brand of courage that could turn things around.

The 270,000 members of my union—the hospitality union—are mostly immigrants and people of color. In 2008, they took a chance on Obama, and UNITE HERE became the first union in the nation to endorse him. That endorsement paid off big time for him. In Nevada, UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union is the largest organization of immigrants in the state. In 2008, immigrant voters came to the polls in droves, turning a red state blue for Obama. They did it again in 2012.

UNITE HERE member Marta's family will not be separated now that President Obama has taken executive action on immigration The President’s decision to grant relief to millions of immigrants in this country, despite Republican threats, shows our members that their voices—their families—matter. Millions of lives will change from this one brave act, and it’s the kind of courage that will inspire our members to vote again. It’s what is needed if Democrats want to be the party for an entire generation of immigrants in America.

But this is just one act. If Democrats want to win back the base and impact national politics for years to come, it’s time to replace compromise with courage. It’s time for Democrats and their allies to stand up and fight for changes that really matter to people like my members.

The Republicans will propose to abolish the Affordable Care Act. They know that effort will fail. They are then preparing to offer proposals to “fix” it. Democrats should match each of the Republican proposals with principled stands of their own.

For example, if Republicans want to reduce taxes on medical devices, Democrats should demand elimination of the tax on non-profit union health plans. If Republicans want to delay the employer mandate, the Democrats should propose to delay the tax fine imposed on working people who can’t afford the insurance their employer offers and don’t qualify for the ObamaCare subsidy.

The Republicans will propose reducing corporate taxes. Democrats should counter by demanding that is only applicable for corporations that pay their employee $50,000 a year and provide decent benefits. Corporations that do so deserve better treatment under the tax code than corporations that do not.

Proposing minimal increases to the minimum wage polls well, but it doesn’t inspire. Wages are flat in this country. That needs to change. Instead of pushing for 50 cents an hour, Democrats should be pushing to increase income to at least $50,000 a year. No family can live and prosper in America on less—and shouldn’t have to.

Republicans are going to propose lessening regulation on business. Democrats should counter with an offer for lessening the regulation on employees trying to organize and bargain with their employer.

Republicans will propose more trade agreements. Democrats cooperated before with some weak labor improvements for workers in other countries but without winning any better working conditions for American workers of the corporations who benefit from such trade agreements. It is time for getting something real in return.

Let’s hope that President Obama’s actions last week won’t be the last brave act by Democratic leaders we see before the next election. The members of my union ask only for an opportunity to provide for their families. They have a long history of willingness to risk their livelihoods to win. To inspire them, we need political leaders who are willing to risk as much to improve our nation.

UNITE HERE Report: "The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse"

D. Taylor on Obamacare 2.0: Fix Perverse Incentives

September 30, 2014 4:34 pm Published by Leave a comment

Reposted from

This post by UNITE HERE President D. Taylor was published at Politico Magazine’s “The Agenda,” in a piece titledObamacare 2.0: The Affordable Care Act survived Year One. Fifteen health-care thinkers tell us how to fix—or reimagine—it for the long haul:

One year later, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange marketplace has greatly reduced the number of uninsured Americans. That was one of the law’s goals. But, as the leader of a growing union with more than 270,000 members, I do know this: Obamacare needs to be fixed. And, that conversation will, and should, shape the politics of 2016.

Despite unrelenting efforts by Republicans, Obamacare is here to stay. But if Democrats think all is well with the ACA, they should know better. If they truly believe in the benefits of expanded access to health care, they need not only to celebrate those added to the health-care rolls, but also to fix the law to protect those who have lost or will lose their existing coverage due to the law’s perverse incentives.

While the ACA has helped millions of people obtain insurance for the first time, if Washington doesn’t get its act together, millions more will see dramatic reductions in benefits and cost increases in their coverage. The five largest for-profit health insurance companies spent a billion dollars a month buying up other insurers and providers in the two years leading up to enrollment. There isn’t nearly as much competition as we’re going to need.

At the same time, nonprofit health plans sponsored by unions and churches, often the only real competition for the for-profit insurers before reform, don’t have access to the ACA’s subsidies. These plans are having trouble keeping their own members because employers see less comprehensive subsidized exchange coverage as a cheaper option. Nonprofit health plans also cannot offer their services on the ACA exchanges in fair competition with the for-profit sector. Self-funded nonprofit plans are regulated strictly by the federal government—additional licensing and solvency requirements by state regulators can cost $20-$50 million per state. Our plans do not have billions in cash reserves.

The law creates two perverse incentives for employers who currently provide comprehensive health coverage: Dump workers onto the exchanges with the likelihood of less comprehensive coverage or reduce coverage in their existing plans. The temptation for employers to dump covered workers onto the exchanges is enormous given the difference in costs. Our plans typically cover more than 90 percent of workers’ costs in traditional low-wage industries. However, employer-sponsored plans qualify as “affordable” under the ACA if they account for just 60 percent of the patients’ costs. Most people can’t afford 40 percent of their medical costs plus a premium, but new University of South Carolina polling shows that more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 employers are increasing workers’ costs. The overall impact of the law on working class families with good, comprehensive health coverage is a hard push in the direction of less coverage and more out-of-pocket costs.

The ACA has done nothing to address the drivers of escalating health-care costs. Profit-driven hospital systems are building local and regional monopolies unchecked, and pharmaceutical costs continue to soar. These underlying trends are driving insurers to protect their own bottom lines with perverse new tactics like trying to drive high-cost patients, so called “non-preferreds,” out of drug plans.

These challenges are very real and need to be addressed. As 2016 kicks into full gear for president and Congress, including key Senate races, we will be watching the discussion closely. The ACA is potentially a good law, but it needs to be fixed.

Students and workers at Seattle University celebrate their organizing victory.

Seattle University food service workers unionize and ratify first contract

September 18, 2014 10:30 pm Published by Leave a comment

Students and workers at Seattle University celebrate their organizing victory.After organizing and joining UNITE HERE Local 8, food service workers at Seattle University overwhelmingly ratified their first union contract on September 17.

“I’m so proud we won consistent raises, immigrant rights, and cheaper health insurance for me and my coworkers,”  said negotiating committee member Glenda Navas, a cashier at the university for over 6 years. “And—most importantly—job security!”

Workers went to management at the end of the academic year in 2014 with strong majority support for the Union and demanded recognition. Student and faculty supporters joined the delegation, and union members from around the Puget Sound region helped successfully organize at Seattle U.

“As a student at Seattle U, my greatest sources of pride and commitment to our mission of social justice have been moments like these, when staff and students are able to see a direct impact in our communities,” said Lorena Mendoza-Flores ’15.

“We welcome Seattle University workers to our Union,” said Melody Swett, cocktail server and longtime union member at the Westin Seattle. “Together we can raise the standards for food service workers across the city.”

an Atlantic City family applies for assistance at the AC Unites Here resource center.

Pulling Together For Atlantic City

September 15, 2014 5:12 pm Published by Leave a comment

an Atlantic City family applies for assistance at the AC Unites Here resource center.In response to the unprecedented closure of three Atlantic City casinos in less than three weeks, UNITE HERE Local 54 joined state, county, and local government and community partners to run the AC Unites Here resource center September 3–10.

The closures affect about 7,500 workers—from the Showboat, Trump Plaza, and Revel casinos. The center was open to all workers from the closed casinos; only 2,500 of those laid off are UNITE HERE members.

The AC Unites Here resource center featured 18 different partner organizations offering services: assistance applying for unemployment benefits and food stamps, as well as mortgage modifications, utility assistance, and health care. The resource center was the largest event designed to help laid-off casino workers meet their basic needs and get back on their feet.

Over 200 Local 54 members and staff set up 100 computer stations at the Atlantic City Convention Center. An estimated 2,000 people came through the resource center in the first three days, applying for benefits in 9 different languages.

Learn more on Local 54’s Facebook page.

San Francisco food service workers get active at City Hall.

Centerplate Workers Push New Contract From “Giant Zero” to Home Run

August 18, 2014 5:47 am Published by Leave a comment

San Francisco food service workers get active at City Hall.Ending a fight that lasted through three years and a World Series win, workers at the home stadium for the San Francisco Giants baseball team ratified a champion new contract recently. Local 2 members at AT&T Park stayed strong through strikes, civil disobedience, and a worker-called boycott of garlic fries and other concessions and now enjoy what may be the best stadium contract in the United States.

Workers won more comfortable and convenient rest and meal breaks; stronger protections for immigrant workers; seniority scheduling; and caps on workloads for suite attendants. They also won benefit and wage improvements that are tied to a strong hotel contract, including raises for both non-tipped and tipped workers, gratuity percentage increases for suites and catering workers, and pension contributions that will double over the life of the contract. Finally, the new contract also secures successorship with worker retention at the ballpark and automatic hiring at the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium.

Read more:

SF Giants Concession Workers Hit Homerun in Contract Fight | Beyond Chron
Workers get new contract at AT&T Park | 48 Hills