MONTEREY, Calif. - At least 100 union hotel workers marched and held a vigil in Monterey Wednesday to raise awareness about recent layoffs. They said big hotel chains were laying-off long-time workers, replacing them with cheaper labor and using the economy as an excuse.
Maria Santos spent more than a decade as a hilton garden inn housekeeper until earlier this year when she said new ownership took over the hotel.
"They told us that we weren't contracted with the new company and the computer didn't process our applications since we had to apply for our jobs again," explained Santos. She said twelve other workers were let go in all. "Then, right after we left, they replaced us with seventeen workers," she added.
Hotel workers across the country said they have also suffered similar experiences. UNITE HERE Local 483 helped organize nationwide protests and vigils in response.
Leonard O'Neill of Local 483 said other chains like the Hyatt Corporation are doing the same thing, even laying off as many as a hundred workers in Boston recently.
"The hundred workers were making $15 an hour in Boston, and they brought in a hundred workers from Georgia at $8 an hour to replace them and they're giving them more rooms to do," said O'Neill. "So it gives you an idea the thinking of corporate America," he added.
Santos said she simply wants answers as she faces an uncertain future. "I have a house to pay for and two kids in college and I don't know what's going to happen," said Santos.
Central Coast News tried several times to get a statement on the situation from the Hilton Garden Inn and the Monterey Hyatt Regency, but they never returned our calls.
Meanwhile, Local 483 members said they planned to hold future protests demanding the laid-off workers are re-hired.