A Young Worker’s Introduction to the Labor Movement
Below is a brief interview with Lauren Stusak, a young worker in Duluth, Minn., who is active with the campaign to unionize hotel workers there.
Socialist Action: Where do you work and what is your job there?
Lauren Stusak: I’m a room attendant and inspector at the Inn on Lake Superior down in Canal Park, which is the tourist district of Duluth.
SA: Briefly, what does your job there entail?
Lauren: Cleaning and inspecting hotel rooms.
SA: What do you get paid, and what, if any, benefits does the hotel you work at provide?
Lauren: I get paid $6.75 an hour. As for benefits I get jack shit, and you can quote me as saying that. When I was hired they said that I would qualify for health and dental benefits, as well as a 401K plan, after I’ve worked there for six months. Now that I’ve been there for six months they’ve changed it to a year. The only reason I took the job in the first place was because of the supposed benefits.
SA: How did you get involved in the current union organizing drive at your workplace?
Lauren: A co-worker of mine approached me and asked me some questions, and if I’d be interested in talking to a union organizer.
SA: What was your motivation for talking to the union, and becoming active with it?
Lauren: I didn’t know anything about unions when I was first approached, but I thought I’d check it out since I wasn’t exactly happy with the wages and overall conditions at the Inn.
SA: Had you had any contact with the labor movement in any way before?
Lauren: Not at all.
SA: What has the experience been for you, working with your co-workers and the organizers trying to get a union?
Lauren: It’s been cool getting closer to my co-workers, for us to all be on the same level and on the same page. We’re fed up, we all think the same and are fighting for the same thing. It’s been a positive experience and it feels good fighting for something that will help me and my co-workers, as well as our families and the community.
SA: What would you say to other young workers working at jobs that are similar to yours right now?
Lauren: I’d say we all deserve a voice at work, we all deserve the choice to decide whether or not we want a union.
SA: What would you say is the number one thing that you’ve learned after getting involved in all of this?
Lauren: Hotel owners don’t care at all about their employees-but we can fight back, we can get better wages, conditions, and living standards. There’s a lot of us in the same boat, and there’s a lot of people who care. Together we can do this!