(SAN FRANCISCO) – Employees of Hertz Rent A Car at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), who are working to organize their union with Teamsters Local 856, have taken a strike vote and announced they will strike on Monday, November 7.
The 156 workers at Hertz who transport vehicles to the SFO rental car center are mostly Chinese, Latino and Filipino immigrants. Hertz gave the car shuttlers a 60-day WARN notice that their jobs will be outsourced to subcontractor EDS Service Solutions just before the holiday season. Many of the shuttlers have worked at Hertz for 10, 20 or more years.
“I came from El Salvador in 1999 with my wife, two daughters and my son. I have suffered a lot in the US; my wife had a battle with cancer and we struggle to pay rising rents. I feel really bad about what Hertz has done to us, abusing their power to fire us by tossing us out like trash,” said Gilberto Alarcon, a Hertz car shuttler for over 16 years.
Hertz plans to lay off the workers on November 8 and has ignored the workers’ pleas for a 90-day postponement that would allow them to meet with Hertz and try to find a solution to save their jobs.
The workers’ request to delay the layoffs has been echoed by members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Director of SFO Airport and a growing group of community leaders. A coalition of more than 20 community and labor organizations has supported the shuttlers and their workplace actions to date.
“They think that because we are immigrants we don’t like to get involved or disrupt things. But this is America; we must stand up for our rights. Even if some of us end up working for EDS, we won’t know if we will work 40 hours or 20 hours; we will have no voice and no dignity. We must stand as strong people. We are the heads of household, so if we don’t stand up, our families will only go down,” said Luisito Flores, a Hertz car shuttler of 21 years.
“Hertz risks nothing by slowing this down and coming to the table to talk,” said Rudy Gonzalez, Vice President of Teamsters Local 856. “We see this for what it really is, a multinational corporation outsourcing work in order to prevent these workers from gaining a voice and respect on the job by organizing their union. San Francisco will not stand for companies taking advantage of immigrant workers.”
“I came from Hong Kong to the Tenderloin in 1990. For years, I had to work two jobs as the sole provider for my daughter and mother. I worked seven days a week at Hertz and another rental company for extra cash. I feel abandoned by a company that I’ve worked so hard for,” said Suet Fei Li, a Hertz car shuttler for over 16 years. “I wasn’t born with a golden spoon in my mouth, but what I do know is the bitter taste of needing to work two jobs to make ends meet. Life is a long road. We workers are mothers, we are daughters, and we have to be there for each other and be examples for each other.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.