Investigate Alcatraz Cruises for ignoring rampant racial discrimination among its employees.
  • Petitioning Jon Jarvis

This petition will be delivered to:

Director, National Parks Service
Jon Jarvis

Investigate Alcatraz Cruises for ignoring rampant racial discrimination among its employees.

    1. Tokunbo A.
    2. Petition by

      Tokunbo A.

      S.F., United States

My name is Ayoe and for the past four years, until I resigned in frustration, at the Pier 33 landing I worked as a member of the Guest Services/ Security team at Alcatraz Cruises (in San Francisco, Ca), a subsidiary of Hornblower Cruises, owned by CEO Terry MacRae. In that period of time I was subjected to easily over twenty instances of rampant discriminatory conduct, threats, unequal advancement opportunities and frequent racial epithets and insults, online and in person, in particular frequent derogatory use of the N-word, by several of my direct supervisors, one of whom was subsequently promoted twice to a managerial position. I am asking that you conduct a full and open investigation into the policies and practices of Alcatraz Cruises for ignoring rampant racial discrimination among its employees, details of which several incidences, past and present, I am sure the company will not be as forthcoming with.

When I reported these to the Human Resources Director, I was told that I must have encouraged it, and somehow it must have been my fault, and as punishment for stepping forward to make this report, I was shunned, castigated and given a bad annual performance review in spite of twice being Employee of the Quarter, the most experienced member of the team, tri-lingual, and being the current winner of the company's annual international Hornblower Q2 award (voted on by the guests, thank God). In further retaliation, I was denied several well-deserved and overdue promotions and informed that the prize for the Q2 award, a cruise for two, would expire two months after it was awarded, even though the company knew I had already booked my vacation for that time period. By contrast the winner of the award the previous year was allowed to extend the cruise expiration deadline by over a year.

Every department in the company is notoriously plagued by the most horrible instances of racial prejudice. In the history of the entire company's supervisorial and managerial staff there has been only one manager and no supervisors who are African-American. The Marine Ops Department has traditionally excluded African-Americans since the company's inception and when I asked why, I was told, "it's not your people’s thing", as if those positions were traditionally reserved for only a certain race. Senior officials of the company are entrenched in a pattern of favoritism towards Caucasians and prejudicial treatment against African-Americans to the point where African-Americans are fired for minutiae and the least infractions, such as 'not being as fluent as expected in the English language' or not having the proper attitude towards guests, (my favorite was the African-American employee that was written up and subsequently terminated because he had a baseball hat on during his break time).

Conversely there are reported and documented cases of at least one Caucasian employee who threatened to come to the company premises and shoot people, physically intimidating guests and being intoxicated while on duty, in addition to other serious infractions, who was still allowed to continue working there with only a slap on the wrist. Another routinely came to work under the influence of alcohol and was a supervisor. After resigning myself mentally to absorbing this treatment for four and a half years, I finally resigned myself physically, and removed myself from the environment altogether. While I have been advised to pursue legal action against the company, I feel that resolving the case of racism against one individual (in this case me) is the easy part. There is a wider and entrenched cancer, and still many voiceless employees there, being subjected to the same discrimination, fearful of complaining, lest they lose their jobs.

Thoroughly overturning, reorganizing and reversing this entrenched pattern of hatred and illegal preferential treatment at Alcatraz Cruises will require the efforts of a wider community and the glare of a national spotlight so I am asking the National Parks Service, and in effect, the Federal Government (and by extension, Terry Macrae, the owner of Hornblower Cruises to look into this and take appropriate action) to investigate Alcatraz Cruises for ignoring this rampant racial discrimination among its corporate ranks. In the event that Alcatraz Cruises refuses, as they have, thus far, to reverse these racist policies and hateful practices, the National Parks Service should not renew their contract, which expires on September 27, 2015. Thank you all for your support. Thank you.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Did SF Weekly bow to pressure from Hornblower to remove comments?

      Tokunbo A.
      Petition Organizer

      Hello Everyone,

      So after the story broke in the SF Weekly, Hornblower Cruises ownership panicked and forced several of the principal players involved in this sordid racist saga to resign. The story was also effective in that over a dozen former (as well as a significant number of current) employees used the comment section of the paper to air their grievances. Previously unknown instances of similar racist behavior by the company surfaced and a class action lawsuit is also being planned against Alcatraz Cruises as we speak.

      Imagine our surprise when we discovered that all the comments- all pertinent, all explosive and all from potential victims of this companies illegal, racist, prejudiced and damaging policies and actions, at least over fifty of them, had been deleted. It is safe to assume that only the SF Weekly Editor would have the power to perform such an action or give orders to those who would.

      Please help me in writing letters to the editor, asking why these valuable and potentially damaging comments about Hornblower Cruises were deleted. As Andrew Scot Bolsinger, the journalist who wrote the article once said, "journalists are not supposed to take sides, just be impartial and tell the story". So what exactly happened here? Was someone coerced into taking sides? Please click on the link below and ask why these comments were deleted and ask they be restored. We can't allow freedom of speech to be hijacked by the power of undue and improper influence. Thank you.

      http://posting.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/EmailUs/Page?department=letters

      P.S. Meanwhile the good thing is that other publications are beginning to be interested in why Alcatraz Cruises is so insistent on, and good at, covering up the truth. Thank you all for your support.

      Email Us

      Want to talk to us? If you have feedback for a writer, or a question for another employee, you can do it here. If you...

    2. The First Salvo - How much is an overpriced attorneys integrity worth?

      Tokunbo A.
      Petition Organizer

      Let me open by announcing that Anne Levine, the erstwhile Human Resources Director at Alcatraz Cruises just resigned, presumably forced out as a consequence of recent events, thanks to the support my case is generating from around the world. First, Assistant Guest Services Manager Douglas Linares [who repeatedly referred to African-American employees derisively and derogatorily, by the N-word] resigned and now Ms. Levine. It took only four years to achieve some measure of justice but I am a patient individual. The dominoes are falling and only time will tell where it will stop. Social media and the power of exposure has driven this course of action from day one….so I want to thank you all for your steadfast and continuing support.

      So, on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, in the least of the legal battles I am facing against the patently prejudiced, monolithic cruise company, Alcatraz Cruises LLC, which runs the ferry service out to Alcatraz Island from Pier 33 landing in San Francisco, California, and known for its intimidating tactics, under the parent umbrella of Hornblower Cruises, I came away with a victory, albeit a pyrrhic victory. I hesitate to consider the settlement, because that's what it was, a settlement, a victory only because it was a clear case of 'a bird in hand being worth two in the bush'.

      A few months before I had resigned, (for reasons you all well know), I had been entered into the so-called 'International' Q2 Customer Service Competition by Hornblower Cruises (Hornblower operates over 30 cruise ships in New York, Berkeley, Marina Del Rey, Sacramento, Long Beach, San Diego and Newport Beach. The company also runs ferries in the Bahamas, Florida, Alabama, and on both Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario. Terry MacRae, the owner of Hornblower, is (ironically, for a business making millions of dollars in a heavily liberal region of the country) reputed to be heavily wired into both the defunct George Bush administration and current Tea Party Republican Party. Hornblower also has a contract to run ferry services for US Marines on Okinawa, Japan)

      As it was explained to me, initially, I had been nominated by several managers for my excellent work ethic, but the final decision to elect the winner was placed in the hands of the guests (which irritated the senior management of Alcatraz Cruises to no end) and the incredible and overwhelming volume of positive customer comments through surveys, emails, comment cards and in person regarding my character, cheerful demeanor and helpful customer service skills helped seal the decision. Representing the company against all other Hornblower companies, I won the first prize, which was supposed to be $1000.00 in cash and an ocean cruise for two, supposedly worth $4000.00. The company did pay the one thousand in cash shortly after I won.

      This was in July, 2013. I was told the cruise expired in December, 2013 and hurried to explain to both the Operations Manager, Denise R. and the General Manger Scott .T. that since I had already booked my vacation for December, would it be possible for it to be transferred into a cash remuneration or an airfare/cash exchange for the following year. The GM acquiesced and promised to 'make it happen'. As relations between us soured and I eventually resigned, the company refused to honor the agreement, claiming I should take it up with Royal Caribbean Cruises.

      However at the Labor Commission hearing, after I tendered several texts in which there was a clear pattern of communication between the GM and I, in which I kept reminding him of his promise and asking when we could sit down and hammer out the details, the GM was pretty much not permitted to speak by the company's high-priced attorney's whose position (I represented myself…..I can't afford a $500/ hr attorney) was that the company had no such agreement with me, as the GM did not SPECIFICALLY say anywhere that he promised to 'make it happen'. He simply 'SEEMED guilty of acquiescing, by omission of responding to my texts'. I stated that he could easily have responded by denying or asking what the heck I was talking about if the texts didn't make sense to him at the time. However they were willing to 'be gracious' and offered a settlement for approximately 40% of the value of the cruise I was suing for.

      When a corporation offers to settle, there are one of three things at play. The company is paying way too much for legal representation and they regard the case a nuisance they'd rather settle. They are nervous that some aspects of your case might raise eyebrows at their ethics and embarrass them, or they genuinely are afraid of losing. I counter offered which the attorney flatly declined, stating that "What I have stated is my final offer and that's as high as the company is willing to go".

      I respectfully declined, asking him how it is that, allegedly, last month, Hornblower just took over control of the maintenance and storage facility that serviced the Maid of the Mist fleet for Niagara Falls, paying the Ontario government $500 million over 30 years….$300 million more than their competitor had offered, and yet, vindictively and unscrupulously, cheat a highly decorated employee out of a few thousand dollars (when they could man up and do the right thing, settling all the claims, if just to make it all go away) that was less than what they paid one attorney in a day. With a lazy sardonic grimace, the attorney acknowledged that he earned more than that amount in a day while I just sat there shaking my head.

      I told him I thought it was incredulous that the company would rather shoulder the negative publicity value of these bullying tactics for a few thousand bucks. The attorney hurriedly scribbled this last comment down (making sure to let me know he was writing my words down ~ ooh, I'm quaking in my boots) on his expensive, seemingly monogrammed legal pad. After they left, I decided to relent and accept the offer. I called the GM and relayed this to him and they returned to the facility. I had one condition though. He had to accept a different offer increased by the paltry sum of twenty dollars ($20). That is the price of an attorney's integrity and conscience. I should have made it one cent. He asked why I had made the stipulation and I explained that I just wanted to see what his integrity, in not sticking with his previously stated 'final offer', was worth.

      This is just the first salvo. The main racial discrimination case is upcoming and there is a class action lawsuit that over a dozen current and ex-employees of Alcatraz Cruises intend to file against the company as well as a Federal EEOC claim against the company. The GM just seemed relieved we could work this out and took umbrage at my suggestion that he was a 'company man'. They seem to miss the point. This is about justice, not money. They can always find dollar figures to throw out there and assuage their consciences. Their victims can always accept (or decline) these offers to patch up the holes in their hearts after relentlessly giving the company their blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally). However, it is a sad testament to the culture of repression in our lives that victims need to revert to lawsuits in courts, hearings at commissions and pleas to the public in order to seek and secure justice. Maybe, if these types of companies simply did the right thing from the beginning, situations like these wouldn't occur. That's just a thought.

    3. More allegations of racism at Alcatraz Cruises…..

      Tokunbo A.
      Petition Organizer

      As Hornblower Cruises- the parent company for Alcatraz Cruises- opens its Niagara Falls branch, (in which it invested $20 million), its pattern of racism, discrimination and intimidation follows the company around like a bad odor. This dark cloud is explored here in the latest edition of the SF Weekly. Thank you to all my supporters. Please help me share all the news and updates about this company to friends and family alike. Thank you.

      http://www.sfweekly.com/2014-05-14/news/alcatraz-cruises-hornblower-cruises-statue-of-liberty-cruises/

      Loose Lips Sink Ships: Beneath the Surface of Hornblower Cruises, Allegations of Racism and Intimidation Threaten Its Public Image

      For the thousands of tourists who streamed past his podium in front of Pier 33, Ayo Jiboku considered himself an ambassador. The broadly smiling face under the security cap could greet visitors in one of the four languages he spoke, welcoming them as they arrived to tour Alcatraz.

    4. Alcatraz Cruises caught perjuring themselves to a government agency…..

      Tokunbo A.
      Petition Organizer

      Hi people. In hopes of quickly securing employment following my resignation from the hostile environment of a deeply racist Alcatraz Cruises environment, I initially resisted the temptation to apply for unemployment benefits; I finally did, and was shocked when the EDD informed me that Alcatraz Cruises was challenging my claim on the grounds that 'there was never any history of racial discrimination at the company', and 'the reason I resigned was because I had foreknowledge that I was about to be terminated'. Really? I had just won an International Q2 Customer Service Award in a competition involving hundreds of employees nationwide, and been Employee of the Quarter twice in 4 years. I quickly responded to this unintelligent piece of perjury with a stack of forty pages of evidence including texts/emails between myself and the General Manager among others showing them admitting to, and apologizing for, the prejudice at the company. It took the EDD less than 24 hours to approve my claim.

    5. Reached 1,000 signatures
    6. More shady behavior uncovered at Alcatraz Cruises regarding benefits…..

      Tokunbo A.
      Petition Organizer

      Before I bid adieu to the culture of blatant prejudice and barely concealed hatred against minorities in general, and African-Americans in particular, which had eroded Alcatraz Cruises at Pier 33 in S.F., CA, (a pattern of hateful behavior protected by senior management), I had been approached by several members of staff who couldn't understand why they had been at the company for so long but weren't being paid as much as others (of a different race) who had started working there after them, or why their medical benefits were not being honored. I tried to broach the subject with a manager in my department and was told, basically, to mind my own business. I then advised these employees to take their cases to the Labor Commission at the State Building. I am happy to report that as of 01/15/2014, the Labor Commission had agreed with my assessment that Alcatraz Cruises had illegally withheld benefits from these employees and ordered them to pay several thousands of dollars in backpay.

    7. How can a company contracted by the N.P.S. be so proud of their prejudice?

      Tokunbo A.
      Petition Organizer

      On my way to Fisherman's Wharf last week, I stopped by the Pier 33 landing (the departure point for the Alcatraz Cruise tours) to utilize their public restrooms. Several employees came over to say hi and exchange impending season greetings; however one senior manager, Aaron W accosted me, questioned me, and told me I was banned from the Pier 33 landing. He quickly flip-flopped when I informed him politely that this was illegal as, frequently, Caucasian employees who had been terminated, were allowed to return, mingle with their ex-coworkers and even take the tour to the island. Ironically this underscored the very reason why I had resigned. Not to put a fine point on it, as a member of the security team, I was often ordered to call local law enforcement authorities, and/or senior management, when terminated employees (usually African-American or Hispanic) returned to the premises. It was disheartening to see that the racist policies which made me resign are still firmly in place.

    8. Reached 750 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Jason Porter SAN FRANCISCO, CA
      • 20 days ago

      I use to work for that same particular company and i feel the same way he feels cause i was mistreated also.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Anne Kerns SILVER SPRING, UNITED STATES
      • 30 days ago

      Sounds like it needs an investigation to me!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • steve wright LOS ANGELES, CA
      • about 1 month ago

      Alcatraz Cruises is one of the most racist and corrupted companies in SF. I fully hope that NPS will take into consideration this company's high turn overs and racist behaviors towards its employees by not granting them a new contract in 2015.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Anthony Allen CINCINNATI, OH
      • about 1 month ago

      Its time we attack racism everywhere

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Tonia Harvey DELMAR, DE
      • 2 months ago

      horrible !

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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