Organizing takes time
months of organizing in Santa Fe, N.M., the Hotel Employees and
Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) has yet to claim a
single unionized shop. That's proof that Santa Fe tourism workers
don't want a union, says Art Bouffard of the New Mexico Hotel/Motel
Association. But organizer Jesse Case insists it's not check-out
time for the union yet; the group intentionally waited to start its
sign-up drive until it could garner some community support. City
officials have been cautious, but encouraging, says Case, pointing
to a recent resolution by the Santa Fe City Council that backs
workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively. Case says
Santa Fe - where tourism supports one in five residents and where
wealthy new residents steadily push working-class families into
trailer-park barrios - is ripe territory for a union. The hotels'
Bouffard argues that Santa Fe's service industry offers competitive
wages (maids make about $40 a day), but Case says the issue isn't
how hospitality workers are doing compared to other low-wage
workers. He questions whether anyone in Santa Fe should have to
work two jobs just to make ends meet. For more information, contact
HERE at 310 Read St., Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505/820-1393) or the New
Mexico Hotel/Motel Association at 1478 South St. Francis Dr., Santa
Fe, NM 87501 (505/983-4554).
* Jill K.