On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, one week after 7,500 hospitality workers at 24 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange County voted overwhelmingly to authorize strikes, 800 workers were set to celebrate the Catholic holiday, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, with public actions in front of Southern California hotels.
Workers held demonstrations at The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Los Angeles, Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, Hilton Anaheim and Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort. The Los Angeles Times reported that there were also demonstrations at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.
2018 is already the set the record for the largest series of hotel worker strikes in U.S. history, and now as the year comes to a close, hotel workers in Los Angeles and Orange County are poised to strike after contracts expired on Friday, November 30, 2018.
“We are out in the streets today to protest negotiations and are just waiting on the call to walk out on strike,” said Andrew Cohen, communications for UNITE HERE Local 11, the labor union that represents over 30,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. “We still have contract talks moving and our hope is the companies will do the right thing and settle this, but if not, we are ready.”
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Among the main concerns of hotel workers is getting wages to $25 per hour to ensure that Los Angeles and Orange County hospitality workers are able to keep pace with the increasing cost of living in Southern California.
The decision to authorize strikes comes after months of negotiations with varying levels of progress reached with employers at prominent Southern California hotels. Among the workers’ demands are: affordable health insurance, increases to pensions, implementation of panic buttons, increased protections for immigrant workers, and wage increases that get to $25 an hour by the end of the contract.
Los Angeles and Orange County are two of the last locations where UNITE HERE hotel contracts have expired. Nearly 8,000 workers form UNITE HERE won contract improvements after strikes at Marriott International hotels in San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, San Jose, Boston, Detroit, and on Maui and Oahu in Hawaii announced and held from around September to November 2018. About 2,500 hotels workers demonstrated for nine weeks in San Francisco before reaching a contract agreement in early December 2018.
12.17.18 Contract Negotiation Update: “We have been negotiating every day and haven't gotten the word to strike yet,” Cohen said. “We will have another action on Thursday, December 20, but will likely not strike this week.”
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