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    Hospitality workers strike at 8 more Southern California hotels
    • July 10, 2023

    Hundreds of cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen and other workers from eight area hotels walked off the job Monday, July 10, marking the second wave of the largest multi-hotel strike in Southern California history.

    The employees, represented by Unite Here Local 11, are seeking an immediate $5-hourly wage increase for all hotel workers, regardless of their current pay level. They want the hotels to continue providing family healthcare coverage for employees and are seeking upgrades to their pension plan as well as “safe and humane” workloads.

    SEE MORE: What’s behind the workers’ strike at Southern California hotels?

    The union also wants to establish a fund to help pay for the construction of affordable housing for hotel workers who are struggling amid rising rents and mortgages. The fund would be supported through a 7% tax on hotel guests, replacing the “junk fees” they currently pay for wireless service and other amenities, Unite Here said.

    The hotel workers are seeking an immediate $5-an-hour pay increase. They also want to create a fund to help pay for the construction of affordable housing for hotel employees. (Photo courtesy of Unite Here Local 11)

    Lilia Sotelo, a housekeeper at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, fully supports the union’s demands.

    “I am on strike because as a mom I will do anything to keep a roof over my kids’ heads,” Sotelo said “Rent is soaring but wages are not.”

    Meanwhile, employees say rooms are no longer being cleaned on a daily basis.

    “They’re only cleaning them on checkout, so that creates a heavier workload when they are cleaned,” said Christian Morales, a laundry worker at the Hilton Pasadena, said last month. “I was putting things in the laundry chute and it was clogged all the way up to the fifth floor.”

    Unite Here co-President Kurt Petersen said the union hasn’t decided how long the latest walkout will last.

    “We want to keep the companies guessing,” he said. “Right now, there are replacement workers sitting in these hotels waiting to be deployed to different jobs. So they’re paying for a second workforce.”

    The latest walkout targets the Westin Los Angeles Airport hotel, Hotel June in Westchester and Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles hotel, among others. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown LA is the only location that has reached a labor agreement with Unite Here, union officials said.

    Monday’s strike comes just days after hundreds of hospitality workers picketed 21 hotels in Santa Monica and LA over the July 4th weekend.

    Two days later, a bargaining group representing 44 Southern California hotels filed unfair labor practice charges against the union, claiming they broke the law by attempting to force the hotels into a contract with elements that have nothing to do with their employees and “could harm the Los Angeles tourism industry.”

    The Coordinated Bargaining Group said Unite Here is insisting the hotels support a controversial LA County ballot measure requiring them to house the homeless along with regular guests. And they say the union’s proposed 7% tax on hotel guests is simply a way to grow Local 11’s footprint outside Los Angeles.

    Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the Hotel Association of Los Angeles, said the homeless mandate and tax issue fall under the purview of city governments — not hotels.

    “This is a real head-scratcher,” he said in an interview last week. “And the demand that hotels provide housing for homeless individuals wouldn’t come without wrap-around services that address mental illness, drug addiction and safety precautions for housekeepers.”

    More than 15,000 Southern California hotel workers voted last month to authorize a strike, with 96% voting in favor of a walkout.

    The top concern among the workers is the rising cost of housing. In a recent union survey, 53% of employees said they have either moved in the past five years or will be forced to move in the near future because of soaring housing costs.

    “No worker should have to sleep in their car between shifts because they cannot afford to live in Los Angeles,” Petersen said. “Workers are striking because they believe that all workers in this city – whether you teach, write, act, or clean hotel rooms – deserve a wage that allows them to live with dignity in Los Angeles.”

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    ​ Orange County Register