Several thousand hotel workers in Greater Los Angeles went on strike Sunday over pay and staffing levels, one of the largest hotel shutdowns in the region’s history.
The strike has affected several major hotels in Southern California, causing increased pressure on hotels during the Fourth of July weekend and as the area hosts a major convention that typically draws thousands of people.
The main issue is that of compensation. The rising cost of living, especially housing, is forcing hospitality workers to travel hours away from their workplaces, said Kurt Peterson, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, the union that represents hospitality workers.
He told The Washington Post before the strike, “This is a fight about housing and who can live in L.A. and who can’t.” “The cost of housing in [Los Angeles] is rising to unknown heights.”
Peterson said that in addition to wage increases, the union is bargaining for guaranteed staffing levels, automated digital tipping and the continuation of its robust health insurance plan and pension program
By the time the union’s contract expired on Saturday, the only hotel where workers and management could reach a tentative agreement to stop the strike in time was the Westin Bonaventure, which has a workforce of about 600.
A union spokeswoman said hotels unable to negotiate included the JW Marriott, Millennium Biltmore, Fairmont Miramar and Sheraton Universal.
The strike coincides with Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which is sold out this year and runs Saturday through Tuesday. According to its website, the expo typically has over 100,000 attendees.
The Hotel Association of Los Angeles assured Thursday that in the event of a strike “the hotel community will continue to welcome guests to the Los Angeles area and provide excellent service as always”. It states that the hotel has “engaged in good faith in collective bargaining” with the union.
Diana Rios Sanchez, supervisor of the InterContinental in downtown Los Angeles, said she’s going on strike because she can’t afford more than a one-bedroom apartment in the area for herself and her three children.
Rios Sanchez, 38, who earns $26.20 an hour, said, “I’m going on strike because the pay we’re getting is not what we deserve.” “In California, they’re building more and more hotels, which is driving our rent up.”
Southern California has seen several labor movements recently, including the Hollywood writers’ strike that began in early May. Meanwhile, talks are underway between the actors and producers, with Friday agreeing to extend the actors’ union contract – which was due to expire later this week – till July 12 to avert the strike. And in late June, about 500 workers at Los Angeles Dodger Stadium were set to strike, but went on strike after an agreement was reached.