Ex-workers still waiting on hotel’s $400,000 payout for largest wage theft in Oakland’s history

The hotel that owes the largest wage theft payout in Oakland’s history still hasn’t paid a dollar to 128 ex-workers, according to union representatives who are pressuring the city to take legal action.

Workers at the Radisson Hotel near the city’s airport were owed $20 an hour instead of the $15 rate they made between July 2019 and April 2020 because they declined health benefits — a wage-increase measure approved by voters in the 2018 election.

Last fall, the city’s Department of Workforce and Employment Standards found the Edes Avenue hotel owed more than $400,000 in back pay to housekeepers, front desk staff and other employees who were almost all laid off when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

But the local chapter of UNITE HERE Local 2 now says the affected workers still haven’t seen a single check, even though the Radisson missed a deadline in December to appeal the city’s finding.

“The owner hasn’t even said anything to the effect of ‘I don’t have that money,’” said Sonya Karabel, a campaign researcher for the union. “These workers have been waiting years and years to receive the money they earned.”

The hotel’s owner is the Houston-based K&K Hotel group, which operates a number of hospitality sites and carries the Radisson brand at the Oakland airport location.

Soon, the 300-room hotel will shut down and be converted to affordable housing, part of the state’s Project Homekey initiative that first launched as a way to shelter homeless people during the pandemic.

  Felony kidnapping suspect arrested after pursuit from Fairfield to Rio Vista

Officials at K&K and Radisson management didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Director of Workplace and Employment Standards, Emylene Aspilla, middle, speaks during a press conference regarding an investigation into workers wage theft in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. 128 workers employed at the Radisson Hotel near the Oakland Airport are supposed to earn back more than $400,000 according to the DWES and the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

California Supportive Housing, the nonprofit acquiring the Radisson, is separately overseeing the rehabilitation of a Quality Inn motel near the airport — a process for which the city in January received $20 million in state money to facilitate.

Leaders of the hotel workers union have said they don’t want to interrupt the Radisson’s conversion to housing. Instead, they’re pressuring the city attorney’s office to sue K&K over the unpaid wages as a measure of enforcement.

“Until now, we have not received anything,” Ana Bermudez, a former laundry worker of three years at the Radisson, said in Spanish at a news conference last week outside the hotel. “We want the Radisson to pay attention to us and pay us what they owe us.”

Related Articles

Business |

Over $450,000 in back pay, damages awarded to workers at Half Moon Bay farms where mass shootings took place

Business |

West Valley high school teachers fight for higher salaries, smaller class sizes

Business |

Rent growth outstrips wages in most US metros, new report shows

Business |

After announcing more job cuts, Tesla board rallies investors to vote for Musk’s $56 billion pay package

  As India votes, misinformation surges on social media: “The whole country is paying the price”

Business |

Major agricultural firm sues California over farmworker unionization law

Research shows wage theft is widespread throughout California, and employers are quick to evade retroactively paying workers even after being flagged by local jurisdictions.

Using federal data that outlined workers’ home addresses, researchers at a Rutgers University lab found as many as 14% of workers may have experienced yearly minimum-wage violations across San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont and surrounding cities between 2014 and 2023.

Dan Galvin, who led the study published this month, noted the finding that Black and Latino workers throughout the state were more likely than white workers to be illegally denied proper wages.

“It’s very common for employers who are found liable for wage theft to either just refuse to pay or sometimes they open up a new business under a different name so it’s harder to find them,” Galvin, who is also a professor of political science at Northwestern University, said in an interview.

For the hotel industry, though, he added, “I would assume it’s harder for them to get out from liability to pay.”

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *