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Hotel Workers’ Strike Expanding in Southern California, Looming in Arizona

Hotel Workers’ Strike Expanding in Southern California, Looming in Arizona

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

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

7/18/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The hotel workers’ strike that started in Los Angeles continued to expand in Southern California, with workers in Orange County walking off their jobs last week, demanding higher wages and benefits while seeking support for a union-backed ballot measure to house homeless people at hotels.
The strike by members of Unite Here Local 11 started with a three-day action over the July Fourth holiday weekend at 19 hotel properties in Los Angeles. So far, thousands of workers in 61 hotels across Los Angeles and Orange counties were involved in the walkout.
The strike could soon expand again, according to the union, which also represents hospitality workers in Arizona.
“The [Hilton Phoenix] has an expired contract and could go on strike at any minute,” the union posted on Twitter July 14. “Workers are already picketing there.”
Both sides have filed federal unfair labor charges against each other this month, alleging misconduct during contract negotiations.
The union filed a complaint last week alleging that hotels in Los Angeles are using staffing application Instawork to replace striking workers with new temporary hires, according to Reuters.
Unite Here Local 11, which represents 32,000 hospitality workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas, and convention centers in Southern California and Arizona, has demanded a $10 hourly wage increase among other benefits, according to the union’s website.
“The mass walkout marks just the first wave of strikes and disruption by hotel workers across the region,” Unite Here Local 11, wrote in a statement. “Workers will not rest until they are paid a wage that allows them to live in the communities where they work.”
Striking hotel workers rally outside The L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown in downtown Los Angeles on July 4, 2023. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

Striking hotel workers rally outside The L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown in downtown Los Angeles on July 4, 2023. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

According to Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the Hotel Association of Los Angeles, union representatives ignored the hotel bargaining group’s latest offer presented two weeks ago and did not show up for discussions last week.
“They are more focused on theater in streets than working on a negotiated settlement,” Mr. Hillan said.
The unfair labor practice charges filed by the bargaining group allege the union refused to bargain in good faith or provide documents relating to its demands, the group said in a statement issued July 7.
Besides seeking higher pay, the union requested—as a part of its contract demands—hotels to support a controversial ballot measure that would require hotels in the city of Los Angeles to house homeless people alongside guests.
In response, hotel owners filed a federal unfair labor practice charge against the union July 3—after union negotiators did not respond to repeated invitations for further discussions, according to the Hotel Association of Los Angeles—alleging that the request is unrelated to their employees and thus illegal.
“[The union] is asking hotels to be part of a housing initiative that we have no authority over,” Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the hotel association, told The Epoch Times.
The union gathered more than 126,000 signatures in 2022 from Angelenos in support to put the measure on March 2024 ballot. The Los Angeles City Council also voted last year to let voters decide rather than approving the measure directly.
If passed by voters, the law would require hotels in Los Angeles to house homeless people in vacant rooms. The measure would also require hotels to provide affordable housing and meet certain wage theft and employment laws or face disciplinary action.
Striking hotel workers rally outside the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on July 4, 2023. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

Striking hotel workers rally outside the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on July 4, 2023. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

The union has also demanded hotels charge guests a 7-percent fee to fund union activities, according to the hotel group.
“Insisting that these provisions must be in any contract settlement and striking to include them is not only unlawful, but it is also a real obstacle to reaching agreement on a contract,” Keith Grossman—an attorney and spokesman for the Coordinated Bargaining Group, which represents 44 Los Angeles and Orange County-area hotels negotiating with the union—said in a July 6 statement.
“If the union really wanted an agreement to help the employees, it would have dropped these issues long ago instead of taking employees out on strike over them,” he added.
The union did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
The union voted to authorize a strike June 8 and went on strike across Southern California during the Fourth of July weekend before its contract expired June 30.
At least one organization has canceled a company event at one of the hotels involved in the dispute.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the charitable arm of the breakfast cereal giant, postponed its meeting at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel July 13 in solidarity with union workers, according to a press release.
“Our primary focus is creating a world in which all children can thrive—something that is impossible unless their parents and caregivers can secure and maintain jobs that sustain their families,” the statement read.
The company hopes to hold the meeting in October after the labor dispute is resolved, according to the statement.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the type of hotel that would be required to house the homeless if the 2024 ballot initiative is passed by voters. The Epoch Times regrets the error.
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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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