From noon to 1pm tomorrow, immigrant rights activists will be rallying in Oakland (1500 Broadway) in protest of ICE performing employee harassment and intimidation on behalf of a well-connected hotel CEO who doesn't feel like adhering to a living wage law. If you're in the area, go out and tell ICE to stop attacking workers rights. And if you can't be there in person, you can call Special Agent Charles DeMore at (510) 267-3800 and tell him that ICE shouldn't be involving itself in the enforcement (or lack thereof) of local labor laws.
A month ago, Brian wrote on Calitics about Rep. Brian Bilbray's meddling in Bay Area living wage issues. He chronicled how workers at the Woodfin hotels in Emeryville were fighting to receive the living wage assured them by Measure C, a local living wage law. The city is insisting that Woodfin pay the living wage, but unfortunately for the workers, the CEO of Woodfin hotels lives in Brian Bilbray's district and has contributed enough money to get his phone calls answered.
So back in February he had Bilbray call Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in to investigate his own staff. ICE seized employee files from two local hotels (Woodfin and Hilton Garden Inn), and last month it returned to the Hilton to arrest a dishwasher who had worked there 18 years and with a list of 12 employees that must be fired immediately. ICE agents have also reportedly visited the home of a Woodfin employee leader explicitly because she'd spoken publicly about the issue. So not only did Woodfin CEO Sam Hardage call down ICE on his own staff rather than pay them decently and legally, and not only does he have federal immigration officers doing his employee intimidation for him, he also managed to call the feds on his local competition and only get members of their staff fired. Paying to be connected sure pays off.
If Brian Bilbray were really concerned about any sort of immigration enforcement, he'd be holding employers accountable instead of calling in favors for campaign contributors. He wouldn't be wasting the ICE's time meddling in local labor issues or muddying the waters between immigration law and fair wage practices. If he had any respect for the rule of law or the rights of localities to legislate local issues, he wouldn't be using federal agents to intimidate workers who only want the law to be enforced and he wouldn't be helping a campaign contributor refuse to acknowledge the law in the first place. But as usual, it's politics of the expedient power grab, with Bilbray rewarding the big bucks and betraying any semblance of principle. It's about creating victims and criminals but never calling into question the campaign contributors that criminalize and victimize so many people. It's about ignoring the law if your monetary backers tell you to.
Cross posted at Calitics