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Disney Workers Declare Solidarity in March


ANAHEIM — Carrying banners that said, "We Make The Magic," more than 1,000 hotel workers and their supporters marched in solidarity Saturday near Disneyland and the surrounding hotel zone in anticipation of new wage contract talks.

"We're marching for justice," said Teresa Aguerra, 47, of Orange, who said she has worked at the Disneyland Hotel for 18 years. "I want to help my co-workers."

Marchers, many of whom were Latino, began at Freedom Way near the Anaheim Plaza Hotel, then swung east on Katella Avenue and ended with a brief rally at Stoddard Park on 9th Street.

Police estimated at least 800 marchers participated and said there were no disturbances or arrests. Organizers said they had 1,500 people in the march.

The march was organized by the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 681 with support from Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, an Orange County immigrants' rights group, said Angela J. Keefe, president and business manager for the local, which is based in Santa Ana.

"It's an effort by us as a show of support for our workers," Keefe said, adding that contract negotiations at the Disneyland Hotel will begin in January, and in May for the Anaheim Hilton workers.

Hotel workers earn an average of $6.50 an hour, Keefe said. The union represents hotel housekeepers, food servers and dishwashers as well as concession workers at Disneyland.

On Saturday night, marchers yelled "Mucho trabajo, poco dinero! (Much work, little pay)," and kept rhythm with a six-piece mariachi group.

Jose Velasquez, 55, a union electrician for 28 years, and his wife, Connie, 52, said they marched because they believe that unions hold a key for the children of many of the hotel and restaurant employees.

"Our young people need to have a place in our society. They need goals," said Velasquez. "At least with a union they can learn a trade."

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