The union isn’t a place or thing, it’s people. Today, we're launching a new series called Portraits, featuring workers who are standing up for positive change in their job.
Name: Rachele Smith
Job: PBX Operator at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Irvine, Calif. (a non-union hotel)
Hometown: Costa Mesa, Calif.
You still haven't won the union in your hotel. What keeps you going? From the beginning we knew it wouldn't be easy. The hotel company has a lot of money, and they fight us. I believe the company wants us to lose faith, get sick of fighting and give up. But I won't. It sounds cheesy, but it's the people I'm fighting alongside who keep me going. It's the unity of workers, supporters and organizers---we keep each other going.
Lately you've been spending time in Long Beach collecting signatures for the Living Wage campaign? Why? Because she earned so little per hour, my Mom had to take extra shifts at work and she missed my school meetings and events while I was growing up. I hated it. That's exactly what's going on in Long Beach. It's housekeepers making $8 or $9 an hour, working extra jobs at night and missing their kids' lives. By passing a Living Wage and requiring big hotels to pay workers $13 an hour, we can change this. It will be on the November ballot and Long Beach voters will decide.
What do you like to do when you're not organizing to change the world? I really like photography. Life moves really fast, and I have a bad memory. Taking snapshots of the things that happen day to day keep me grounded. Right now I'm into 35mm film. Everyone needs to something that is just for them. Photography is that for me.
Do you know a friend or co-worker who is making a difference in the union?
We will feature them in Portraits.