Sheraton Grand, wages not

Lam Chac, a first generation Chinese-American immigrant, has been working at the Sheraton Grand in downtown Sacramento for more than four years at the same salary of $9.10 per hour. The heath-care for her three dependent children and her injured back costs her more than $500 per month as she struggles to afford basic utilities.

“How can we live?” said Chac, who said she was ordered by her doctor to quit her job for health reasons. “There’s no money to pay bills.”

So, Chac and other union workers from the Sheraton and other area hotels teamed up with local clergy members on October 19 in a protest demonstration outside the establishment.

Local 49 of Unite Here, the union that represents the workers, currently is negotiating with the Sheraton to increase employee health-care benefits, reduce workloads and implement wage increases.

“Our members, many of them, need two or three jobs just to pay the bills,” said Chris Rak, an organizer with the union.

Three local clergy members and a rabbi walked into the hotel to present a letter in support of the workers, signed by other community religious leaders, but were told to make an appointment by security.

On Friday morning, Rev. Brian Baker, dean of the Trinity Cathedral Church in Sacramento, met with the Sheraton’s general manager and discussed the working conditions of the hotel. “We are very sincere in our efforts to strike a balance,” said Gunter Stannius, general manager of the hotel, adding that the hotel is eager to negotiate a fair contract with the union and is confident of a near-future settlement. “We are trying to give as much as possible without breaking the bank.”