Strike by Workers at Major Southern California Hotels Demanding Pay and Benefits

by Sophia Chen
hotel workers strike

Major Southern California hotels faced another round of picketing on Monday as workers went on strike during the July Fourth weekend, demanding improved pay and benefits.

Bellhops, front desk agents, room attendants, cooks, servers, and dishwashers initiated the strike early Sunday in Los Angeles and Orange counties, coinciding with the peak of summer tourism. Employers accused the union of failing to engage in negotiations.

Last month, members of Unite Here Local 11 voted in favor of authorizing the strike. Alongside higher wages, the union seeks enhanced healthcare benefits, increased pension contributions, and reduced workloads.

In an unrelated development, thousands of hotel workers in Southern California have also initiated a strike, demanding better compensation and benefits. Simultaneously, striking workers at a significant Boeing supplier have approved a new contract and are set to return to work next week. Additionally, Hollywood’s actors may join the ongoing writers’ strike.

Contracts for over 60 hotels, including properties owned by major chains like Marriott and Hilton, expired at midnight on Friday. The strike affects approximately half of the 32,000 hospitality workers represented by the union across Southern California and Arizona.

Osiris Gaona, a phone operator at InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, stood on the picket line with her husband, 15-year-old son, and 7-year-old granddaughter. Gaona stated that they would continue to march on Tuesday, the Fourth of July.

“Our aim is to send a message to all hotel owners,” Gaona said. “We are demanding a pay raise because the cost of living in California, especially in LA, is extremely high.”

The strike occurs during holiday celebrations and a major anime convention in Los Angeles. The union has urged guests on its website to avoid eating, sleeping, or conducting meetings at the striking hotels, where temporary employees have been hired to fill in for the striking workers. However, it remains unclear whether the strike has led to early checkouts or service disruptions for guests.

This strike is the latest action by a restless labor movement in California. Hollywood writers have been on strike since May, and in March, the Los Angeles Unified School District experienced a three-day shutdown due to strikes by bus drivers, custodians, and support staff. Los Angeles teachers supported that strike but later reached their own contract agreement without walking out. Oakland teachers went on strike for over a week, and slowdowns occurred at the major ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach before West Coast dockworkers reached a tentative settlement in June. Actors are also considering a strike.

According to the union, the skyrocketing cost of living in greater Los Angeles poses a significant problem for hotel workers.

Last week, a tentative agreement was reached with the largest employer, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown Los Angeles, which employs over 600 union workers. Union officials hailed the agreement, which includes higher pay and increased staffing levels, as a major victory for workers.

However, negotiations with other hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Regent Beverly Wilshire, and the Anaheim Hilton near Disneyland, have reached a stalemate. A coalition of more than 40 hotels involved in the talks accused union leaders of canceling a scheduled bargaining session and refusing to come to the table. The group of hotels has offered wage increases of $2.50 per hour in the first 12 months and $6.25 over four years.

“The Union has displayed no willingness to engage in productive, good faith negotiations with this group,” stated the hotel coalition in a Sunday statement. “The Union has not deviated from its initial demand made two months ago, which included a potential 40% wage increase and a 28% rise in benefit costs.”

Anticipating the work stoppage, the hotels are “fully prepared to continue operating and ensure our guests are taken care of throughout this disruption,” said Keith Grossman, a spokesperson for the coalition.

This article includes contributions from writers John Antczak and Christopher Weber of Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about hotel workers strike

What is the reason behind the workers’ strike at major Southern California hotels?

The workers are striking to demand better pay and benefits, including higher wages, improved healthcare benefits, higher pension contributions, and reduced workloads.

Which union is involved in the strike?

The strike is led by the members of Unite Here Local 11, representing hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona.

How many hotels are affected by the strike?

Over 60 hotels, including properties owned by major chains like Marriott and Hilton, are affected by the strike.

How long has the strike been going on?

The strike started during the July Fourth weekend when workers walked off the job, and it is currently ongoing.

Are there any negotiations taking place between the union and the hotels?

Negotiations have been taking place, but the hotels accuse the union of failing to negotiate in good faith. Talks have reached a stalemate with some hotels, while a tentative agreement has been reached with others.

How are the hotels managing during the strike?

The hotels have hired temporary employees to fill in for the striking workers and are fully prepared to continue operating and taking care of guests during the disruption caused by the strike.

What other labor movements have been taking place in California?

Apart from the hotel workers’ strike, other recent labor movements in California include the ongoing writers’ strike in Hollywood, the strikes by bus drivers and support staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the teachers’ strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland.

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RadicalWriter July 4, 2023 - 1:14 pm

hotel workers on strike?! damn, solidarity! they want more $$$, better healthcare, less work! unions gotta fight for their peeps. ✊

RadicalWriter July 6, 2023 - 6:18 pm

hotel workers on strike?! damn, solidarity! they want more $$$, better healthcare, less work! unions gotta fight for their peeps. ✊


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