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Daly City backs food workers; South City next?

By Todd Brown
Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 at 11:48 am in Uncategorized.

GenentechGenentech cafeteria workers got a vote of confidence Monday from the Daly City Council, which approved a “code of conduct” that asks the company to provide fair wages and better health benefits for its contract food service employees.

“They treat their regular workers very well,” said Councilwoman Judith Christensen, charging that when it comes to its cafeteria workers, the biotech giant (shown here) absolves itself of responsibility for their welfare by contracting out the jobs.

With the encouragement of Unite Here, a hospitality labor union that has taken the multi-billion-dollar company to task regarding its low-paid contract laborers, several Genentech cafeteria workers attended Monday night’s meeting.

Cashier Adriana Gonzalez of Daly City said her two-week pay is $540 and that she spends $358 a month for family health insurance. Fellow cashier Milarose Oriel of Burlingame said she got health coverage through the county until her employer, Guckenheimer Enterprises of Redwood City, offered a $44 per month program starting in January.

Although the workers aren’t formally a chapter of Unite Here, organizer Catherine Cusic said they have the support of many full-time Genentech employees, 600 of whom have signed a petition on their behalf.

“Our approach is like anti-sweatshop work,” Cusic said, adding of Guckenheimer, “They appear to prefer immigrant workers.”

Cusic said 85 percent of the food service workers contracted to work at Genentech are Latino, while the rest of the 175 employees are Asian and Pacific Islander. Gonzalez emigrated from El Salvador, while Oriel is from Manila in the Philippines.

Genentech’s headquarters are in South San Francisco. At a 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Municipal Building, 33 Arroyo Drive, the South San Francisco City Council will consider approving a similar “code of conduct.”

UPDATE: Read Todd R. Brown’s story about what happened Wednesday at the South San Francisco City Council meeting.

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