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Union fights racism at Sheraton New YorkNYHTC - November 21, 2009
"My name is Oliver Barrett. I work at the Ritz-Carlton New York at Battery Park. I used to be an overnight houseman at the Sheraton New York.
One night, my manager passed me in the hall and said he needed to speak with me. I asked if we could talk in private. He said, 'There is no private here. I own you like my grandfather owned your grandfather.'
"I couldn't believe my ears. It was one of the most racist and offensive things I'd ever heard. I was furious. I called my union representative at 4:30 in the morning.
By 6 a.m., he was in the hotel, gathering up the union delegates and occupying the office of the Director of Human Resources. We demanded that action be taken. By 7 a.m., my manager had been fired.
"Every day, non-union workers get treated like they're less, because of the color of their skin or the country they come from. Because I have the union, I didn't have to take being treated like that. The union gave me the power to get justice."