Category Archives: Fight Update

Fight Against Transgender Discrimination at Peoples Bank


Seasol is standing alongside member Lizzi in her fight against transphobia at Peoples Bank. Lizzi experienced blatant discrimination at the bank where she has an account. She and Seasol are demanding that Peoples Bank give its employees “Transgender 101” training in acceptance of transgender people as co-workers and customers.

In November, Lizzi called the bank to ask for her account balance. Shayna, the Peoples Bank employee on the other end of the line, refused, saying, “We have this [account] listed as ‘Lizzi ___, female.’” Although Lizzi correctly answered far more than the usual number of security questions, Shayna would not acknowledge that she was speaking to “Lizzi, female.”

Is it a “peoples bank” or only a Cis-Peoples Bank? This bank has been operating in Washington for a century, and three generations of the LeCoq family have served as its officers. Now it’s time for Peoples Bank to live up to its name and do the right thing: show that it is learning how to treat transgender people justly and without discrimination.

It’s not 1921 anymore. Join Seasol in telling Peoples Bank the news: it’s time for Peoples Bank to accept transgender sensitivity training from a skilled transgender advocacy group. Demand an end to transphobia!

Irwin LeCocq Sr, Peoples Bank President 1938 – 1969

Day laborer takes action after Meniz Co. steals wages

José did nine days of cleaning and landscaping work for the Meniz Company as a day laborer several months ago. The owners of the company, Johnny, Victor, and Oscar Meniz, hired him at a rate of $15/hr for a total of 78 hours. When the time came to pay José for his work, the Meniz brothers decided to steal his wages ($1,170) instead.

Frustrated, José contacted the Seattle Solidarity Network, who voted to take on his fight. We quickly found that the Meniz brothers have a history of abusing workers. The Meniz Company was cited by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for stealing overtime pay, deducting and pocketing extra money from worker paychecks, and writing workers bad checks in February of 2012. One of the brothers, Oscar, owns another business, already on the Labor and Industries contractor “strike list” for wage and hour violations. Clearly, the Meniz brothers have made a habit of greedily exploiting honest workers.

On Monday, December 22, José and a group of SeaSolers confronted Victor and Johnny Meniz at a coffee shop, demanding that José be paid in full. Both thieves were startled and confused as José confidently handed over the demand. We gave the Meniz brothers two weeks to pay up.

After two weeks, the bosses hadn’t paid what they owed so SeaSolers put up posters exposing their deeds around the Meniz Company office at 5470 Shilshole Ave NW in Ballard. José and SeaSol are gearing up to take further direct action against the Meniz Company if they do not pay José’s wages. If you’re interested in helping or have questions, please contact SeaSol.


Workers Strike at La Lot Vietnamese Restaurant

When Hien started working at La Lot she was told that things there worked a little differently: management would retain 60% of any tips she earned. She had never worked in a restaurant before, didn’t know anything about the relevant labor laws, and needed a job– so she agreed. She quickly learned that most of her co-workers were also working under similar or even more exploitative arrangements. To make matters worse, managers routinely belittled and disrespected their under-paid workforce. As time passed, and Hien began to compare what her paychecks should be to the meager sums she was actually receiving, she decided she needed to do something. She approached some of her co-workers about the issue, and two of them agreed to go with her to confront the owner about her unfair and illegal practice.

In the end, Hien and one other co-worker went to have a conversation with their boss. The owner was upset and refused to give them all of their tips, but initially agreed to let them retain a larger share. Hien wasn’t satisfied but was feeling better until the next week’s schedule came out: her hours were cut in half. Then she received a call later that same week telling her they were training someone new so she would only be working one day per week now. She was clearly being retaliated against for standing up for herself and her co-workers. She was furious, but didn’t know what to do. She began approaching various government agencies such as the Washington State department of Labor and Industries and the city’s Human Right’s Commission, but the outlook wasn’t good. All of those processes would take a long time with uncertain results, and Hien and her husband needed that income now. Luckily, Jeff, her co-worker who had intended to go with her to confront her boss in the first place but had been on vacation at the time, had heard of another group that might be able to help.

Jeff and Hien met with a few volunteers from SeaSol and things started to move quickly. Their demands were simple: restore Hien’s schedule and implement a fair tip structure at La Lot. They would go on strike due to unfair labor practices with SeaSol’s support until all their demands were met. They approached some of their co-workers to see if they would join and while they supported the demands without exception they were too fearful of retaliation to join. After all, they had just recently seen what happened to Hien’s hours after she spoke up. On the afternoon of Thursday, August 7th, Hien and Jeff marched into La Lot with approximately fifty supporters from SeaSol to deliver their demands in writing and begin their strike.

Hien and Jeff have now been on strike for over one week. Management has indicated that they may be willing to settle, but have so far refused to actually implement any changes at La Lot. SeaSol members have twice gone to distribute fliers during La Lot’s busy lunch rush, typically turning away approximately 25% of would-be customers with just a few people. On the evening of Friday August 15th, we held our first real picket outside the restaurant. More than forty SeaSol supporters chanted and held signs brining dinner business at La Lot to a stand still. The pickets will continue to become more frequent until the striking workers’ demands are met. Please stay tuned for more information about this exciting campaign.

Victory in Wage Theft Fight against the Bombay Grill

demand delivery at Bombay Grill  Bombay Grill pays up

José endured seven months as an underpaid cook at the Bombay Grill in the University District, receiving hourly wages between 81 cents and $4. Adding insult to injury, he faced threats and intimidation from bosses Glen Quadros and Kailash Upadhyay on a regular basis. Because his wages were insufficient for rent anywhere else, José had to sleep on the floor of the filthy restaurant during the heat of summer (which Glen called “room and board”).

After seeing a SeaSol sticker at his local laundromat, José decided to stand up against his bosses and fight back using direct action. He called SeaSol and we voted to take on his fight.

On January 4, 2014, a large group of SeaSolers filled the Bombay Grill to support José as he delivered a demand to his former bosses. José and SeaSol demanded payment of the equivalent of one month’s stolen wages, which came to $2,261.30. Glen ignored the letter, looking with condescension at the faces surrounding him, as a waitress picked it up and read it aloud. During the two weeks following the demand delivery, Glen and Kailash neglected to pay José the portion of his wages he had demanded. As we knew the Bombay Grill would likely be closing down very soon, there was a degree of urgency in SeaSol’s approach to this fight which influenced major decisions we made at meetings.

In the following weeks, SeaSol’s campaign against the wage thieves Glen and Kailash escalated from small flyerings and posterings around the restaurant to larger, noisier pickets. Our largest picket was on February 14th; we turned away many Valentine’s Day customers with high-energy chants and noisemaking, leaving Glen and Kailash visibly upset at their loss of profits for the night and acting like fools in their parking lot. We turned away the majority of their business during every action, and the bosses slowly began to accept that José and SeaSol were not going away until the demand was met.

Throughout the fight, the bosses at the Bombay Grill gave us the run-around, claiming they wanted to meet up and pay at least once a week and then trying to negotiate paying a lesser amount, creepily trying to get José alone in the restaurant with them, and trying to talk José into “not telling anyone” about the conditions he faced working in their restaurant. On Friday February 21, 2014, the sleazy Glen and Kailash set up a meeting with SeaSol and José yet again, writing a check for the full demand. Immediately afterward, as José went to cash the check, the greedy and stupid bosses walked smirking out of the bank. They had canceled the check, and thought their problems were solved.

At noon the following day, a dozen SeaSolers showed up for a picket of the Bombay Grill’s lunch buffet. With this, Glen realized that he and his partner in crime had not outsmarted us, and went to the bank to get José a cashier’s check for the full amount of the demand, which José walked away with that same day. Thanks to everyone who participated in this fight! Victory is ours!

Join Us!

Seattle Solidarity (“SeaSol”) is a volunteer network of working people who believe in standing up for our rights. Our goal is to support our fellow workers’ strikes and struggles, build solidarity, and organize to deal with specific job, housing, and other problems caused by the greed of the rich and powerful. Join us!  Let’s fight to win.

Problems with your boss or landlord? Get in touch.

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