SoCal Hotel Workers Union Approves New ‘Life-Changing’ Contract With 34 Hotels

SoCal Hotel Workers Union Approves New ‘Life-Changing’ Contract With 34 Hotels

Hotel workers with Unite Here Local 11 march through downtown L.A. calling for a "fair contract" from numerous major hotels in the region in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

3/25/2024

Updated: 3/25/2024

The union representing hotel workers across Southern California announced March 25 the signing of a new four-year contract with 34 hotels that gives workers a $10 per hour raise.
Members of Unite Here Local 11, which represents more than 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona, started striking on July Fourth weekend last year, seeking higher wages and benefits to help workers keep up with the city’s high cost of living.
Union leaders called the contract agreement “a powerful moment in history” during a rally to announce it Monday at the InterContinental hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
A 50-page agreement was reached last week after workers at 34 hotels voted to ratify it March 21, union co-President Kurt Petersen told several hundred members at the rally.
“Today, we say to Los Angeles that this fight was worth it, because we have won a life-changing contract that transformed hotel jobs from low-wage service work to middle-class professional positions,” Mr. Petersen said.
The new contract gives hotel workers a $5 an hour wage increase this year, which represents a 20-percent hike for many workers, according to Mr. Petersen. This means workers will earn an estimated $10,000 more this year, he added.
“It’s going to transform lives, and we won it through this strike,” he said.
Although he didn’t share many details, Mr. Petersen announced the workers would see an increase of $10 an hour within four years, which would be a “game changer,” he said.
Hotel workers with Unite Here Local 11 picket outside the InterContinental hotel on the first day of a strike at many major hotels in Los Angeles on July 2, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Hotel workers with Unite Here Local 11 picket outside the InterContinental hotel on the first day of a strike at many major hotels in Los Angeles on July 2, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

With this wage hike, room attendants would make $35 an hour, or $73,000 a year, and the highest-paid cooks would make $41 an hour, Mr. Petersen said.
This would help workers afford housing closer to their jobs, he said.
The union claims its demands were also met for affordable health insurance, a return of daily room cleaning, guaranteed pre-pandemic staffing levels, and paid Juneteenth holidays.
President Joe Biden made Juneteenth—a commemoration of the ending of slavery—the 11th federal holiday in 2021.
“Workers won everything they struck for: wages, healthcare, pensions, fair workloads & growth. But we’re not done until we’re all done,” the union posted on X Monday.
Contracts expired June 30, 2023, for about 15,000 workers at 65 hotels represented by the union in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, and luxury hotels in Beverly Hills and downtown Los Angeles were affected during the strike.
More than 10,000 hotel workers at more than 52 hotels struck 160 times since demonstrations started last year, according to Mr. Petersen.
“We launched the first wave of strikes, and we haven’t stopped since,” he told the crowd.
The union will continue pushing for an agreement at the remaining hotels included in their strike effort, he said.
If all hotels sign the new contract, it would be worth $1 billion, according to Mr. Petersen.
Brenda Mendoza, a former uniform attendant at JW Marriott in Los Angeles, told those gathered at Monday’s rally the wage increase will help.
“Low wages forced me out of Los Angeles,” Ms. Mendoza said. “The wage increase will give me peace of mind. It means I won’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.”
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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