After a four-day strike over wages and benefits, more than 100 workers at DoubleTree by Hilton San Jose marched in a final rally Thursday evening as they made their voices heard about income inequality in Silicon Valley,
The workers, who included housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, front desk clerks and others, planned to return to their jobs Thursday at midnight.
Union organizer Calvin Miaw said the sides have been in negotiations since July, and the company has not backed away from freezing long-term wages and raising the cost of health insurance for the 250 affected employees.
He said housekeepers at DoubleTree make about $12.80 an hour, and that's not enough to live on.
"It's clearly not sufficient," he said. "People are struggling every day in San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, in the center of wealth."
In a statement issued earlier this week, hotel General Manager Rob Balmer said the company is committed to bargaining in good faith, but they have been in negotiations for "several months now without reaching a reasonable agreement on economics.
"We are extremely disappointed with the union's current work stoppage and hope that they will return to the bargaining table to negotiate a reasonable agreement," Balmer said in the statement. "A strike is not the right direction."
The company brought in temporary replacements to cover the striking workers' shifts.
Miaw said the hotel industry has
"Don't be greedy," said Yolanda Gamez, 60, a housekeeper at the hotel who said she generally gets by but sometimes has to ask her children for money to pay the bills. "I'm very independent -- that's really hard to do."
San Jose native Adrey Ortiz, 25, said the cost of living in the Bay Area has driven the rest of her family to Spokane, Wash. She said she survives on her wages as a front desk staffer at the DoubleTree, but it's not easy.
"The only way I can stay here is rooming with multiple roommates," she said. "Raising insurance and freezing wages, there goes my dream of living on my own. How many more roommates am I going to have to live with to survive?"
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.