The march began with a rally at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church. Speakers included Romane Petit Joseph, a UNITE HERE organizer; Theresa Muse, one of the Mardi Gras 10; Maria del Rosario Rodriguez, from the Florida Immigration Coalition; Rev. Richard Aguilar; and Dylan Beasly, a student at the University of Miami.
UNITE HERE Local 355, which represents 5,400 hotel, airport, stadium and casino workers in South Florida, organized the action.
Muse began working at Mardi Gras as a floor attendant in 2006, making $10 an hour plus tips. “About a year and a half after I started, they cut my pay by $2,” Muse told the Militant. “They demean us, have no respect, fire people all the time. When we heard the union was coming, we were ecstatic.”
On April 30, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against the casino’s management for interfering with the right to form a union. The complaint calls for reinstatement and back pay for the fired workers and “reasonable access” to post union information inside the casino.
Haitian hotel workers from the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, students from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and airport workers from Fort Lauderdale and Miami were among those who joined the march.
“We are in the middle of negotiating a second contract,” said a worker at the march employed by Isle Capri Casino in Pompano Beach. He declined to give his name for fear of company reprisal. “Even when you win the union, the fight’s not over.”
“Everyone has the right to organize,” said Mike Beaver, a ride operator at Disney World, near Orlando, and member of UNITE HERE Local 362. “A struggle for them is a struggle for all of us.”
Mardi Gras Casino did not return calls from the Militant requesting comment.
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