Mandelman, Avalos Arrested in Labor Day Protest

The current and former supervisors were among 75 arrested for blocking the right of way during a protest against Marriott hotels' low wages.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman is taken into custody by SFPD after participating in a Labor Day protest. (Photo: Hillary Ronen)

Hundreds of workers took to the streets on Labor Day in support of workers’ rights, in a protest that has become an annual standard for the city of San Francisco. But this year, one specific issue stood out: that of the hotel workers from Marriott, who united for better contracts under the tagline “one job should be enough.”

“Hotel workers are the backbone of our city’s highly profitable tourism economy, but as we welcome guests to San Francisco, we ourselves struggle to survive here,” representatives from Unite Here! Local 2, the hotel workers’ union, posted online. “We’re calling on Marriott — the industry leader and the biggest hotel company in the world — to make one job enough to pay the bills, raise a family, and retire with dignity.”

A total of 75 people were arrested for blocking a street outside J. W. Marriott’s Westin St. Francis hotel during the event, and amidst the crowds of blue-collar workers being loaded into paddywagons were a few familiar faces from City Hall. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, his legislative aide Kyle Smeallie, and former-Supervisor John Avalos were all taken into custody and cited with blocking the public right-of-way and disobeying a police officer who asked them to move.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen snapped a photo of Mandelman as he was led away from the scene in handcuffs, writing on Facebook that she was proud of her colleague for standing up for workers’ rights.

Smeallie tells SF Weekly he and Mandelman are waiting for a follow-up call on the citation. But as he pointed out, the three men from City Hall face little repercussion for their actions on Monday. The real heroes in this story are those who live paycheck-to-paycheck, who may have a pending immigration status, or who are at risk for losing their jobs and homes — and who still marched anyway.

The union plans to hold a strike Sept. 13.

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