Friday, March 30, 2012

Teamsters Marchin' on the Ritz in Boston

This is how you build a middle class.
Hundreds of Boston Teamsters staged an ear-shattering rally outside of the veddy, veddy upscale Ritz-Carlton yesterday on behalf of 330 parking workers. Some of them work for the employer, Central Parking, at the Ritz garage. They voted to join Local 25 on Feb. 8.

You know what happened next: Central Parking stalled the certification process and fired union supporters.

And so Teamsters -- including parking workers from New York and California -- raised a hellacious noise while marching on the narrow sidewalk outside of the posh hotel in downtown Boston. The local's semi was parked nearby, making it clear which union was outside the house.

Brother Ernie Yates flew in from San Francisco to rouse the crowd at the rally. Yates is secretary-treasurer of Local 665 and chairman of the Teamsters National Parking Council. We don't know exactly what he said yesterday, but here's his take on parking from a few years ago:
When I first became a member of the Teamsters, I was parking cars at age 17 and did that for 13 years. I’ve seen some real changes in the parking industry over the years but one thing has stayed constant—this is tough work. When I first started doing this job, I thought it was the easiest job in the world. But it is not. You’re constantly moving, which is exhausting. It is also stressful because it is a job that requires a lot of skill. To be able to back up through a crowded garage and swing it into an extremely tight spot before hopping out the window of the car and moving on to the next one—it is not easy.
Local 25 President, Sean O'Brien, said the company should work with its workers, not against them:
Parking attendants and frontline workers are usually the first and sometimes only interaction drivers have with the company.
Teamsters Local 25 believes that all workers should have the right to organize and fight for quality wages and benefits. Instead of investing in the people who drive the company, Central Parking would rather invest in keeping out the union.
The local filed a number of Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board over Central Parking's harassment of workers during the eleciton. The company fired union sympathizers and intimidated workers into voting no. Once a union-friendly employee was physically assaulted.

(Btw, we always love it when corporate thugs like Central hide behind pretty websites and slogans like, "The Leader in Professional Parking Management.")

Stay strong, brothers and sisters!