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Hotel Workers in Southern California Stage Major Strike

Hotel Workers in Southern California Stage Major Strike (1)

Thousands of hotel workers in Southern California went on strike early Sunday morning, their union saying they want to negotiate a contract with greater wages and other perks just before the Fourth of July holiday weekend gets into full swing.

According to tweets posted by the union, UNITE HERE Local 11 members are on strike at more than a dozen hotels in Los Angeles and Santa Monica because their contract expired at midnight. The union claims to represent more than 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona.

The tweet below verifies the news:

The union announced in a press statement that it represents hotel workers such as cooks, dishwashers, servers, front desk personnel, and room attendants. On Friday, a union official stated that the contract applied to around 15,000 employees at 65 hotels.

The union’s main requests are for a $5 per hour pay raise, cheaper health care for families, and more secure employment conditions. More information was not immediately available on Sunday from a union spokeswoman. The local reported that talks started on April 20. More than ninety-six percent of UNITE HERE Local 11 members voted last month to approve the strike.

The union also claims that wages have not kept up with rising housing prices, despite the fact that hotels got billions in federal bailouts during the epidemic and have already recovered and exceeded pre-pandemic profits.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that there are approximately one million fewer affordable rental houses available for extremely low-income renters in California than there were ten years ago, and that this is contributing to the state’s homelessness crisis.

The union has also voiced concern that hosting the 2026 soccer World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles could exacerbate the housing shortage. Co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, Kurt Petersen, released a statement calling it “shameful” that “the hotel negotiators decided to take a four-day holiday instead of negotiating.”

Hotel management has been “actively engaged in good faith collective bargaining” with the union, according to a statement released by the Hotel Association of Los Angeles on Thursday. “The hotel community will continue to provide excellent service in welcoming guests to the Los Angeles area as we always do,” it added.

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Attorneys Keith Grossman and Ken Ballard, speaking on behalf of the Coordinated Bargaining Group, the group comprising the 44 hotels in Los Angeles County and Orange County involved in the negotiations, said in a statement released on Friday that the union “has shown no desire to engage in productive, good faith negotiations with this group.”

The coordinated bargaining group suggested a $2.50 per hour rise the first year, and a $6.25 per hour increase the following four years, according to the statement. Days before the strike began, the union representing 600 workers at the Westin Bonaventure, the city’s largest hotel, said that it had reached an agreement with the hotel’s management that would result in higher salaries and pension contributions for those employees.

It also occurs at Anime Expo, a four-day festival celebrating Japanese popular culture that draws over 100,000 people from around the world to the Los Angeles Convention Center, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The strike is happening at the same time as a writers’ strike in Hollywood. In order to avoid a strike, the Screen Actors Guild, which represents many of Hollywood’s top actors, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have agreed to extend their contract negotiations until July 12.

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