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Oakland May Call For Employers To Establish Sanctuary Workplaces

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The Oakland City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on a resolution calling for sanctuary workplaces for immigrant workers.

Labor leaders say that at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, two hours before the City Council meeting, about 300 immigrant workers, community supporters and faith leaders will rally outside City Hall to support the resolution.

The workers and their supporters will then enter the council chambers to speak about their experiences.

Unite Here Local 2850, which represents hotel, food service, and gaming workers in the East Bay and the North Bay, said Tuesday's action is part of a month-long escalation heading into a mass strike planned for May 1 in which they say tens of thousands of Bay Area workers will walk off the job to demand immigrant rights.

Labor leaders say that in low-wage workplaces, immigration status is often not an issue until workers stand up for higher wages and better working conditions, when employers suddenly retaliate with threats of deportation and problems with immigration authorities.

They say that under President Donald Trump, both documented and undocumented immigrants are under increased attack.

The Oakland proposed resolution "calls upon employers to establish sanctuary workplaces, where workers are respected and not threatened or discriminated against based on their immigration status."

"Whether you are a black family who has been here for generations or a black or brown recent immigrant, we all have the right to decide where we call home," Wei-Ling Huber, the president of Unite Here Local 2850, said in a statement.

Huber said, "When we go to work, we should be valued for the contributions we make, and we should be able to do our jobs free from fear of deportations."

Huber said that as Oakland sees a boom in hotel development, it is important that the future hotels and other workplaces enter the job market as sanctuary workplaces, where hotel housekeepers will not face retaliation based on immigration status.

Huber said Oakland should follow the adjacent city of Emeryville, which already has established minimum labor standards, including provisions protecting workers from retaliation when they stand up for their rights.

© Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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