Protesters march the streets demanding action

People standing outside at the corner of 4th Avenue and Church Street marching through Downtown Nashville marching with the cleaning workers for fair wages.

People standing outside at the corner of 4th Avenue and Church Street marching through Downtown Nashville marching with the cleaning workers for fair wages.

A group of protesters, along with community groups and supporters, marched the streets of Nashville for two days of protesting bringing awareness to the issue of the gap between construction companies making huge profits from increasing construction and hotel businesses and the conditions that hotel and construction employees are facing daily.

The first protest occurred on June 19 at the construction site of the LC Germantown Apartments in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville located at 1226 2nd Ave. North. The construction workers working on the Germantown apartment complex said they went on strike to receive payment for three weeks of construction work. And according to a press release, once they walked off the job several employers threatened them with retaliation. The second protest on June 20 started at Church Street Park in downtown Nashville. These protesters marched around downtown areas to address issues facing low-wage workers, such as employer intimidation. They also delivered petitions to various hotels calling on them to give the workers a raise in their salaries.

Gerson Mendez, a member of Workers Dignity and a former cleaning worker, said he attended the protest march because it served as a way for him to express his rights and to show support for other hotel workers that have been mistreated on the job. Mendez said he was terminated from his job at the Holiday Hotel in Nashville. Then he resigned from his job at the Nashville Sheraton Hotel due to the mistreatment of other employees. He described the environment as very stressful.

“Housekeeping work is not easy, but we have to do the work because we have needs,” said Mendez. “We need to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we are given 20 rooms. They pressure us to work really fast. They want us to finish a room in 30 minutes. That’s some of the things we’re going through.”

Mendez said the response showed that people are starting to realize what is happening at Nashville’s hotels. Workers are getting more support from people in Nashville as they stand up and speak out about the issue. Mendez also pointed out that protesters went to some of the hotels in Nashville and delivered signatures of support and the Workers Bill of Rights calling for a living wage starting at $15 per hour, paid sick leave, and overtime pay for all work over 40 hours/week. Workers will continue to march for fair wages until they receive a response from the hotels and the city of Nashville. The protest in Nashville on June 20 took place on the same day that the Metro Nashville Council considered an ordinance on immigration, which would have limited the law enforcement’s cooperation with federal officials.

The Workers Dignity protesters and organizers continued their march for fair pay and decent working conditions with a march through the hotels of the midtown area of Nashville on July 29.