Placeholder Image Cleve Jones addresses the crowd.
photo credit: KRCB

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.

  • SoCo Calendar
  • Right Now
  • Weather
  • Earthquakes
  • First News
thumbnail FirstNews logoA weekday early morning podcast that offers a first look at the top local news stories and weather forecast you need to start your day.

Sonoma County news stories featuring the latest in breaking news, county government, elections, environment, cultural happenings, and updates on your communities, from Petaluma to Cloverdale, and from Sonoma to Bodega Bay, and everyplace in between.

Subscribe to the Sonoma County First News podcast through our website, the NorCal Mobile App, NPR Podcasts, NPR One, iTunes/Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Read More

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.