Before protesters arrived at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor yesterday to call attention to working conditions and “poverty wages” for the workers who cook, chop, clean, dish-wash and bus tables there, one of them waited to talk to a reporter.
“They treated us like machines – like we didn’t have any emotions or needs,” said Raquel Rojas, a former Cheesecake Factory line cook, standing with leaders of the group organizing the protest, Baltimore-based United Workers.org.
As Rojas spoke in Spanish, her words translated by a member of the group, Baltimore police could be seen in small clusters around the pavilions.
There were also plain-clothed security guards, apparently hired by mega-mall owner General Growth Properties (GGP). At points, they locked the pavilion doors, letting puzzled pedestrians through individually.
United Workers has been pressing GGP, Cordish Companies (manager of the Power Plant attractions) and other firms that own or operate property at the city’s tourist waterfront to make tenants pay a living wage and support education and health care for workers and their families.
United Workers won a “living wage” for some contract workers at the Baltimore Orioles’ Camden Yards a few years ago.
Saying that GGP has not replied to the group’s letters, they organized yesterday’s march to “Occupy the GGP.”