Unite Here Local 26, who has remained quiet this election season, has decided to endorse Democratic nominee Marcia Ranglin-Vassell for House District 5. The 9,000 member Local, representing 1,500 members in the Rhode Island Hospitality Industry, decided it could not remain silent any longer. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell has made the $15 minimum wage a priority in her campaign. In sharp contrast, her write-in opponent Representative John DeSimone, blocked Providence hotel workers from earning a minimum of $15.
In 2014, hotel workers and allies collected over 1,000 signatures supporting a law requiring Providence hotel workers to earn a minimum wage of $15. Most Providence hotel workers are women and minorities. The City Council, knowing polling data supported the measure, unanimously placed the voter proposed $15 minimum wage law on the ballot. However, the RI General Assembly, with the full support of Representative DeSimone, swiftly passed a law to stop Providence from lifting its hotel workers out of poverty. In a maneuver usually only seen in Republican-led states, under Representative DeSimone’s leadership it became illegal for Providence (or any other municipality in the State) to pass its own minimum wage law. Representative DeSimone not only actively supported this measure but he allowed it to move from proposal to law in a matter of days without allowing any public comment.
Maritza Sanchez, a room attendant at the Providence Biltmore and District 5 voter stated: “It’s simple, Marcia Ranglin-Vassell recognizes that our communities and families thrive when we earn a living wage of $15. Her write-in opponent actually had the opportunity to boost hotel worker wages in Providence to $15, but he decided to keep hotel workers like me in poverty. We need someone who will fight for all of us.”
Raquel Cruz, a room attendant at the Providence Renaissance: “Marcia Ranglin-Vassell is a woman of color and an immigrant. She knows what it is like to struggle first hand. It’s time to have a Representative who will fight with us instead of against us. ”
Unite Here Local 26 is one of the many Unite Here Local Unions on the ground in Nevada, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona working to defeat Donald Trump. It has also called for a national boycott of Donald Trump after he refused to negotiate with his employees at Trump Las Vegas where his employees make less than $15 per hour and approximately $3 less per hour than other Las Vegas room attendants.