Lila Zucker, a bartender at Loews New Orleans Hotel, said her chronic health issues would prevent her from working without the $10 a month health insurance she's able to purchase through the hotel's union contract. Odell Brown, who works as a banquet steward at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, called for workers to receive a larger piece of the company's more than $10 billion in annual revenue. Gabby Bolden, a banquet server at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, mentioned rumors of a vast new hotel in development nearby.It says, "rumors" so I thought first of the so-called Trade District development expansion of the upriver Convention Center property. On our NOligarchs map (which needs some updating, btw) we were calling this area "Jaegertown" because Joe Jaeger and Darryl Berger appeared to have an inside track as developers there. But just this month, we read that project has been "mothballed" for the time being. So what's the big thing in the works now?
"It is our business to make sure that [any new hotel] jobs are union jobs with decent wages and benefits," she said. "We all deserve a fair wage."
There's Four Seasons moving into WTC (eventually) but that's much more than a "rumor" at this point. Heck, its projected revenue is already part of mayoral candidate Desiree Charbonnet's budget plans. Speaking of which, I guess neither candidate made it out to the Unite Here rally. That's kind of a shame given that organizing hospitality is going to have to be a top priority for anyone committed to battling economic inequality in New Orleans under the next administration. (We're still not sure LaToya Cantrell even believes inequality is a problem.) There were a couple of council candidates out there, though.
Bolden also urged elected officials to support local organizing efforts, but two City Council candidates who attended the rally already had pledged their support. James Gray, the incumbent District E councilman currently in a Nov. 18 runoff election against opponent Cyndi Nguyen, donned a red UNITE HERE shirt and vowed to assist to the union in contract negotiations if he is re-elected.Banks has also served on the Convention Center board so it's significant that he's aware of the need for stronger unions in hospitality. Bloom is the only candidate on the citywide slate I've seen actually oppose a $15 minimum wage. So that's a pretty stark contrast.
Jay Banks, who faces Seth Bloom in a runoff for the District B City Council seat, also spoke, saying he would be "a friend" to unions if elected. "Making sure that families can work and afford to live is crucial to the survival of this city," he said.