South Bay mall employees protest new parking fees

Employees at one South Bay mall are protesting new parking fees. A group rallied outside the Westfield Valley Fair mall in Santa Clara on Sunday, calling on mall management to wave fees for all mall workers.

"Employees shouldn’t have to pay at work," said mall employee Antonio Garcia. "A lot of people are making minimum wage."

Garcia helped organize the protest. He also put together a petition, signed by more than 1,000 people. It asks mall management to issue free parking permits to mall employees.

"I honestly think the mall is just trying to take money from the employees," said Garcia. "There are so many of us and we need to park to be at work."

The mall launched its "controlled parking plan" earlier this month. For shoppers, the first two hours are free, then guests are charged $1 an hour. For employees, it costs $3 per day, or a fee of $40 per month.

"It basically was a slap in the face to every employee that works there," said Viet Ngo, the owner of Vietnoms restaurant. 

He attended Sunday’s protest to stand up for his employees. "The employees are the backbone of the mall. They are the ones who keep the mall running," said Ngo.

He said, "Westfield wanted to push the responsibility of paying for parking onto the business owners." Paying monthly parking for all employees is something Ngo and many other small business owners said they could not afford.

In a statement, Westfield management wrote, "We support the right of employees who work at the center to voice their opinions, but we remain committed to our controlled parking plan."