“It is very important to me, but I have to fight to get ahead. I’m missing here to go to work,” she said of her inability to spend more time with her family, “but I have to.”
Unit Here Local 11, which represents more than 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona, many of whom are Latino and people of color, coordinated the latest multi-day walkouts that affected at least 12 hotels on Monday. and Tuesday near the Los Angeles airport and the cities of Orange. County.
Thousands of hotel workers participated in three-day work stoppages last week that affected 21 hotels in downtown Los Angeles and Dana Point over the long Fourth of July weekend.
Sixty hotel contracts affecting 15,000 hotel workers, including receptionists, uniform and room attendants, restaurant workers and more, expired on June 30.
The union has been in contract negotiations since late April. He is asking for an immediate wage increase of $5 per hour and an annual increase of $3 per hour for two years, along with health care benefits; A Hostel; a policy against the use of E-Verify, the federal system used to verify employment eligibility based on immigration status; and more secure workloads, among other conditions.
According to the union, the changes would help cover rising costs expected in the region ahead of the 2026 Soccer World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Rising costs, heavier workloads
Arturo Huezo, 52, a housekeeper for 29 years at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, said he has been through about seven contract negotiations and has never been forced to strike.
But he said he has experienced the constantly rising cost of living in Los Angeles and is struggling to pay rent, bills and other related expenses amid thousands of dollars in loans.
Huezo said he considered moving his family to Aurora, Colorado, this year. He makes $25 an hour, but he said it’s not enough to cover his $3,200 monthly rent in south central Los Angeles.
“That was something that made me cry, seeing all my colleagues defending and protesting for our rights,” Huezo said emotionally about the strike. «I feel proud of all my teammates.»
Hotel workers who spoke to NBC News said they have been taking on heavier workloads because staff shortages due to the pandemic have yet to return to normal levels. Tourism and business numbers are returning to pre-pandemic numbers in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Lilia Sotelo, 47, a room attendant at the Sheraton Gateway, said she and her colleagues have to shoulder double and sometimes triple the workload. She attends to 13 or 14 rooms a day, the same number as before the pandemic. But with fewer staff members, the rooms are not cleaned daily, making it difficult for her to do her job, she said.
“We work very hard. We deserve to have a better life with the opportunity to live where we work,” she said.
Huezo said: “We are very tense. We are working under a lot of pressure from the bosses, they are not adding more workers than they need”.
María Hernández, communications specialist for Unite Here, said the union’s internal survey found that more than half of responding workers said they had to move or will move in the next five years due to rising housing costs. .
The Coordinated Bargaining Group, a coalition representing 44 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties, filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union the day the contracts expired.
The coalition argued that the union failed to bargain «in good faith» by striking and not responding to a coalition counter-offer, Keith Grossman, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement. The counter offer included wage increases of $6.25 per hour and increases of $1.50 per hour for health care benefits for four years.
The coalition also criticized the union’s support for a 7% tax rate for guests at unionized hotels and a proposed ballot measure that would rent rooms to the homeless.
“If the Union really wanted a deal to help employees, it would have abandoned these issues long ago instead of taking employees on strike over them,” Grossman said in the statement.
Of the union’s proposed tax rate, Unite Here’s Hernandez said hotels have no problem charging guests «false» rates. The fee would go toward a workforce housing fund that would help with temporary housing, emergency loans and financing for development housing projects, Hernandez said.
The Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, the union’s largest employer with 600 hotel employees, was the first hotel, and remains the only one, to reach an agreement with the union that met its conditions.
“The Westin Bonaventure is the largest hotel [in Los Angeles]. And if they can do it with about 600 workers, what’s to stop all these other hotels from doing it too?” Hernandez said.
The latest strikes are the largest that have been authorized in recent years in the hotel sector. Nearly 8,000 Marriott hotel workers in seven major US cities, some of them in California, left jobs in 2018 for two months before the contractual arrangements were settled.
Hernández said that there are still no scheduled negotiation meetings. She said the Westin deal «inspired» workers to strike, «proving it’s possible.»
It is not clear when more strikes will take place, but «there are more to come,» Hernández said.