A large crowd of close to 200 people stood in front of the Fairmont Sonoma Hotel Thursday night, there in solidarity with hotels workers trying to unionize.
Labor leaders, community figures, a representative for newly-elected State Assembly Member Damon Connolly, and hotel workers themselves addressed the candle-carrying vigil crowd.
One speaker was local clergyman, Father Jim Fredericks.
"I'm sure the Pope would say what he said to me, what we're doing here tonight, this is healthy," Fredericks said.
The workers at the Fairmont Sonoma are organizing with UNITE HERE Local 2 - a major Bay Area hospitality workers union.
Renowned San Francisco AIDS activist and UNITE HERE organizer Cleve Jones said the workers' demands are simple.
"We want enough money to live, to support our families, to care for our senior citizens, to raise our children," Jones said. "We want healthcare that we can afford. We want safe working conditions, and we want to be treated with respect every day when we come to work."
The local hotel employees say they've been the target of an aggressive anti-union campaign, and claim their pay is anywhere from five to seven dollars below their counterparts at the Fairmont San Francisco.
In a written statement, Fairmont management did not address the union drive, but said “[their] top priority is to create a superior employee experience that enables...our team to deliver the best possible guest experience."
For Fairmont Sonoma worker-organizer Erik Baumgartner, the union drive, he said, isn’t just for the workers.
"Just seeing this crowd here tonight, I mean, just makes me feel so empowered to be part of this whole thing and doing something that's right for not only my coworkers, but the community and standing up and fighting for those that are too afraid to have a voice in this whole fight," Baumgartner said.