ERC Rescues Uruguayan Unionists from Deportation

Filipino-American Housekeepers Gain EEO Settlement with Navy

San Diego Leaders Vote to Oppose Repeal of Affordable Care Act

ERC Community Report 2009: The ERC “10 Years After”

ERC Community Report 2008: Report To Our Friends


Union Tribune: No Union? No Problem. Peter Zschiesche founded and runs a center that helps workers

“Peter is a great advocate for the working person,” said Gregory Knoll, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, which makes many referrals to the center.

It was Zschiesche (pronounced zee-she) who identified the need for such a program and pulled together the resources to get it going.”

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San Diego Reader: Hilton management uses assault, intimidation in attempt to silence protesters

“The non-profit Employee Rights Center this afternoon attempted to stage a press conference near the Hilton hotel in Mission Valley to accuse the hotel’s operator, Conneticut-based HEI Hospitality, of wage theft totaling approximately $250,000.

Those arriving to cover the event, however, were greeted by exceptionally loud music emanating from behind a hedge on the Hilton property. Throughout the event, the music continued, nearly drowning out the speakers, even after they moved their podium over a hundred feet from the noise source and were using a public address system of their own.”

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KPBS: Coalition Seeks To Increase Citizenship Applications

“People just don’t feel that it’s something that is accessible to them,” said Alor Calderon, a director at the Employee Rights Center, another of the nonprofits. That’s in part due to the extensive questionnaire required as part of the application, he said. “And especially because having to pay the fees for an immigration attorney makes it just very, very difficult.” The group hopes to naturalize 1,000 people by November’s election, beginning with its first event at San Diego City College on February 25.

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City Heights Life, La Vida: The Employee Rights Center offers nonprofit immigration services in City Heights

“Many people in City Heights are afraid to move around in the community because of their immigration status, making it difficult for them to attend school or access health care.

The California Endowment, sponsor of the Building Healthy Communities initiative in City Heights, is trying to address this issue. It’s partnered with the Employee Rights Center to provide technical assistance to Building Healthy Communities grantees working in City Heights.

The Employee Rights Center offers nonprofit immigration services and has two attorneys in its City Heights office and many resources beyond that.

“Last year, we generated over 12,000 volunteer hours from law students in San Diego that were giving their services to serve low-income people in City Heights and elsewhere in San Diego,” Peter Zschiesche, the center’s founding director, said. “It’s a tremendous resource we have to offer.”

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Union Tribune: Crash puts spotlight on cabbies’ conditions

“Given our years of experience with workers issues,” said Peter Zschiesche, founding director of the 11-year-old Employee Rights Center in San Diego, “I can safely say that taxi drivers and their working conditions are some of the most unprotected there are in an industry that is, in other respects, highly regulated.” 

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KPBS: Hundreds Converge In Downtown May Day Demonstration

“Justin Hewgill, who works downtown at the Employee Rights Center, said the key is taking the message to the streets.

“The only way for working class people to get ideas into the conversation is by showing up on the street and behaving unruly with a message,” Hewgill said. “That’s what May Day has been for more than a century. It’s been an International Day for Worker’s Justice and worker’s celebrations and that’s what we’re doing, except in today’s context.”

“That means referring immigrant rights and referencing the economic justice struggle that we call ‘occupy.’ We want to be part of the conversation,” Hewgill added.”

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KPBS: SD Groups Protest Fair Housing And Employment Office Closure

“Peter Zschiesche is the director of the Employee Rights Center in San Diego. He says a phone call to Los Angeles is not the right way to handle discrimination complaints.

“These are emotional issues, they are not well said over a 1-800 telephone number or answering five questions in a website,” he said. “These are things that people want to be able to express in their own words to human beings and have some interaction and understand what’s going on and what can I do.”

The proposed state budget cuts include limiting damages to claims over $7,500 against employers.” 

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Mid-City CAN eNews: Meet the Grantee: Employee Rights Center offers expertise about immigration

“Because immigration issues cut across so much of what the Building Healthy Communities Initiative is trying to do, they are some of the most critical to address. The California Endowment is using The Employee Rights center to provide technical assistance about these issues to Building Healthy Communities grantees working in City Heights.

Employee Rights Center is one of the few organizations that offers nonprofit immigration services in San Diego, according to Peter Zschiesche, Employee Rights Center’s founding director.

The organization’s numbers are impressive, Zschiesche said. It has two attorneys in its office in City Heights, and many resources beyond that.”

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TJSL: Professor Bisom-Rapp on Employee Rights Center’s Committee

“Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp recently received and accepted an invitation to serve on the Employee Rights Center’s Professional Advisory Committee. The committee meets about four times per year to provide support and advice for the Center’s staff lawyers and to assist the Center in making connections to San Diego law schools and the San Diego legal community.

“I am pleased that TJSL now has representation on the committee given our consistent financial support of the Center and the involvement of our student body with its work.” Bisom-Rapp says. “I have known ERC founding director Peter Zschiesche for years, greatly admire his innovative approach to worker rights, and am pleased to play a more formal support role for the Center than I have in the past.”

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Boston Review: Wronged Without Recourse

“Any group of workers can act as a union if they band together,” says Peter Zschiesche of the Employee Rights Center, and their efforts to do so are protected by the NLRA regardless of their immigration or collective bargaining status. Workers therefore have the right to demand respect for labor and employment law, remedies for past abuses, and protection from retaliation or reprisal on the part of their employers. By exercising their rights in new and creative ways, they can at least potentially avoid the perils and pitfalls of an outdated New Deal industrial relations regime that presupposes majority (or contract) unionism.”

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Union Tribune: Manchester Hyatt housekeepers publicly protest their workload

“Public protests by groups of nonunion workers are rare, said Peter Zschiesche, executive director of the organized labor-supported Employee Rights Center and a member of the San Diego Labor Council’s executive board.

“It’s very unusual for a group of workers to confront an employer the size of Hyatt,” he said. “What I find even more remarkable is that the company sat down and talked with these workers about their grievances.”

The Employee Rights Center serves as an information source on workers’ rights for nonunionized employees.

Zschiesche said the center has been counseling the Hyatt housekeepers on their legal rights. He said he has not been involved in any union organizing talks with the workers.

“Right now, their focus is on fighting for better working conditions,” Zschiesche said. “These nonunion workers have all the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, and we have been advising them of what they need to do to follow that act.”

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Philipine Village Voice: Workers File Formal Complaint Against US Navy, Say ‘Discrimination’ Reason for Their Dismissal

“The termination (of Barrios and Hoegemeier) itself was a continuation of a pattern of discrimination characterized by supervision’s dismissive attitude towards and disregard of the legitimate concerns voiced by this group of housekeepers, predominantly Filipino Americans (and mostly female),” said a letter written on their behalf by Employee Rights Center director Peter Zschiesche.

The ERC and the One Vision One Voice Movement headed by Dr. Maria Lourdes Reyes are the two main community-based organizations assisting and advocating for the workers. OVOV has also brought in US Representatives Bob Filner and Susan Davis and California State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny and San Diego Councilman Ben Hueso.

“Though Barrios and Hoegemeier had no grievance rights being in a probationary status, they had the right to file a discrimination complaint,” explained Zschiesche.

He said the letter-complaints had been forwarded to Ms. Diana Anderson of the Morale, Welfare & Recreation office of the Navy Region Southwest based in San Diego.

Zschiesche echoed all the housekeepers’ complaints in his letter, among them, the substandard lunchroom, denial of the use of bathrooms and denial of access to coffee mess which was available to other workers of other nationalities.

“This denial treated this group of employees as a ‘servant class’ based on their Filipino immigrant status,” Zschiesce said.”

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Union Tribune: A voice for the poor – Think tank founder gets results by backing up arguments with research

“To be sure, the local labor movement was ready for change, said Peter Zschiesche, a veteran labor activist who heads the Employee Rights Center, which provides assistance to non-union workers.

“Donald’s hiring was the product of a bunch of people within labor looking for a new way of doing business in San Diego,” Zschiesche said.

But Cohen brought resources that labor sorely needed, he added.

“Don is focused and he knows how to achieve goals and plan and strategize and how to carry out programs,” Zschiesche said. “He is tremendously skilled in that way.”

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Union Tribune: Labor law protects the rights of nonunionized, too

“So the housekeepers started to talk to one another; pretty soon they were complaining about the new workload in public protests by picketing near the downtown hotel.

“They got the attention of management, and that’s what they set out to do,” says Peter Zschiesche, executive director of the Employee Rights Center, a San Diego agency supported by unions and intended to help nonunionized workers with their problems.

More than that, the Hyatt housekeepers were exercising rights that they probably didn’t even know they possessed.”

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Voice of San Diego: Charter Teachers, Fearful of Firings, Push to Unionize a Shaken School

“These teachers are much more exposed to unfair treatment than teachers in the San Diego Education Association,” said Peter Zschiesche, founding director of the Employee Rights Center, a group that advocates for employees who are not unionized. “Most people think there has to be some law that says, ‘You’ve got to treat me fairly,’ and there isn’t.”

Arguing against the dismissals was even more difficult for King/Chavez teachers because they were not technically fired, Zschiesche said. They were merely not renewed. Teachers said Wolf had not signed their annual contracts when they were told to leave.

If teachers sign off and the King/Chavez schools are unionized, they would become part of an emerging trend. While unionized charters are still an anomaly, more charters are unionizing as workplace issues erupt, said Betheny Gross, a senior researcher at the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. Some are unionized from the start.

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Asian Journal: Healthy Start Program Recognized for Local and National Success

 “CBHS held a celebration for the end of its second year at the Malcolm X library on May 27. The consortium meeting provided an opportunity for staff from community clinics and service organizations to meet with the program participants. Peter Zschiesche and Alor Calderon from the Employee Rights Center spoke on Worker’s Rights and Health.” 

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OB Rag: Demonstrators with Large Gold Brick Disrupt Assemblyman Fletcher’s Education Funding Talk

“Earlier, Peter Zschiesche, a member of the board of trustees of the San Diego Community College District, was among the protesters that spoke. Zschiesche praised assembly bill 1130, which aims to raise California’s income tax on the top 1% of earners in the state by 1%.

Signs waved by the protesters said “Vote yes on AB 1130 — it’s your future” and “Tax the top!”

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City Labor Rights: Workers Rights Center at City College

“Do you know about your rights as a worker? Do you have problems in your workplace? Come to the WRC at City for education, information and support!!” 

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