Press Release: Hyatt Andaz Workers Walk Out on Strike After Management has Union Organizer Arrested

Press Release: Hyatt Andaz Workers Walk Out on Strike After Management has Union Organizer Arrested

Press Release: 03/13/2019
Media Contact: Maria Hernandez
Cell: 623-340-8047
Email: mhernandez[at]unitehere11[dot]org

 Hyatt Andaz Workers Walk Out on Strike After Management has Union Organizer Arrested
Demand “Respect not Handcuffs”

 West Hollywood, CA- Hyatt Andaz workers walked out on a one-day ULP strike at 6 AM Tuesday after management had a union organizer arrested last week.

 UNITE HERE Local 11 filed an unfair labor practice charge with Region 31 of the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that Hyatt Andaz management had unlawfully limited Ms. Soto’s access rights and had her arrested.

 “I was sitting in the cafeteria talking to workers about contract negotiations, when suddenly four men from the Sheriff’s department approached me, and a short while later they were handcuffing me. I was forcibly removed from the hotel,” said Nerexda Soto, 27. “I couldn’t believe they sent four officers for me.”

 Dozens of community allies, clergy, other hotel workers, and representatives from the offices of State Senator Ben Allen, City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board Member Sepi Shyne,  stood in solidarity with the striking workers.

 “An arrest is a serious and severe act, and should not be used in mundane circumstances such as this. Union representatives are allowed, and should be allowed, to service their hard-working members who take care of the guests who visit West Hollywood and contribute to the city’s tax base,” said State Senator Ben Allen in a statement.

 Sepi Shyne, a prominent civil rights activist and member of the City of West Hollywood's Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, said, "I was appalled to hear about the unlawful and disrespectful practices Hyatt Andaz Management took when they had union organizer Nereyda Soto arrested last Wednesday. It is her legal right to represent these workers and Miss Soto had a right to be here. We do not want business in West Hollywood who operate this way. Those are not values of our city. West Hollywood stands with its hotel workers, they make our beautiful city what it is. I am proud to stand with workers at the Hyatt Andaz, and with Nerexda Soto."

 Union organizers have access to employee areas at the Hyatt Andaz hotel based on a provision in the union contract. Ms. Soto, who is working as an organizer while on leave from her job as a barista at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, was in the Hyatt Andaz employee cafeteria speaking with Local 11 union members.

 # # #

 UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union that represents over 31,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. Our members work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.   


Nerexda Soto Testimony: https://www.facebook.com/UniteHereLocal11/videos/345593899630156/

 Press Release: Law Inspired by 2017 TIME Person of the Year Progresses to Next Assembly Committee as Eight More Women Report Sexual Harassment or Assault Allegations at Terranea Resort

Press Release: 03/08/2019
Press Contact: Maria Hernandez
Cell: 623-340-8047
Email: mhernandez[at]unitehere11[dot]org

 Law inspired by 2017 TIME Person of the Year Progresses to Next Assembly Committee as Eight More Women Report Sexual Harassment or Assault Allegations at Terranea Resort

 Sacramento, CA – A law inspired by TIME Magazine's Person of the Year 2017, AB 170, passed out of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment Wednesday afternoon on a 5-1 vote.

AB 170 is dubbed “Sandra’s Law” after Sandra Pezqueda, a former subcontracted dishwasher at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes who was recognized by TIME Magazine as a “Silence Breaker” on workplace sexual assault.

 Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher introduced the bill to hold accountable companies that try to deny responsibility when their subcontracted employees allege sexual harassment at work.

 “Workers who experience sexual harassment on the job are afraid to report that abuse because they know the law is not on their side,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “AB 170 will stop employers from dodging their responsibility to ensure a safe work environment, and AB 171 will protect workers from retaliation when they speak out about workplace abuse.”

 “Sexual harassment is not an abstract issue to our membership. Nor are the myriad obstacles that stand in the way of workers who wish to stand up for themselves and to hold their employers accountable,” said Ada Briceño, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Our union is proud to offer our strongest support for the passage of Assembly Bill 170, Sandra’s Law.”

 Monica Sanchez, a former Terranea dishwasher hired through the same temporary agency as Ms. Pezqueda, testified about her experience of sexual harassment at the resort. “My experiences working at the Terranea were traumatic for me. When I was working there and my supervisor was harassing me, I felt scared and depressed. I felt like I was alone. I hope Sandra’s Law passes to give agency workers like myself a voice and hold companies like Terranea Resort accountable.”

 Under California law, companies must already share in civil liability when their labor contractors fail to pay workers’ compensation insurance. AB 170 would extend the principle to sexual harassment.

 Sandra Pezqueda worked as a dishwasher at the Terranea Resort in Ranchos Palos Verdes through a staffing agency. She alleged sexual harassment by an agency supervisor and was fired after she reported the harassment. Pezqueda sued the Terranea and the staffing agency and reached a settlement with the agency in May 2018. Terranea has denied responsibility on the basis that Pezqueda was employed by a third-party contractor.

Sandra’s Law was known as AB 3081 last year, when it moved all the way through the legislature until former governor Jerry Brown vetoed it.

The Assembly Committee on Judiciary will hold the next hearings on Sandra’s Law March 19.

 # # #
UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union that represents over 31,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. Our members work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.     

Terranea Resort women come forward with allegations of sexual assault  assault


Press Release: Nearly 700 Flying Food Group Workers at LAX Avert Strike, Win Historic Health Insurance Benefit That Makes One Job at LAX Enough

Press Release: 03/05/2019
Media Contact: Maria Hernandez
Cell: 623-340-8047
Email: mhernandez[at]unitehere11[dot]org

 

Nearly 700 Flying Food Group Workers at LAX Avert Strike, Win Historic Health Insurance Benefit That Makes One Job at LAX Enough

Affordable health benefits set a new standard for airline food workers
Big Three airlines now in spotlight for low wages,  inaccessible health insurance affecting 18,000 workers at more than a dozen airport hubs

 

Los Angeles, CA – On Monday night, workers at Flying Food Group in Los Angeles approved the best union contract the airline catering industry has ever seen, in

cluding affordable family health insurance and raises that will increase some workers’ wages to more than $20 per hour by the end of the contract.

 The new agreement with Flying Food Group in Los Angeles covers workers at two different kitchens who prepare, pack, and deliver food and beverages for flights out of LAX, and will be a major step towards making one job enough in airline food service. The workers, who are represented by UNITE HERE Local 11, voted 98% to ratify their historic agreement, which comes after workers voted on February 13 to authorize a strike if contract negotiations with Flying Food Group did not reach a satisfactory settlement.

 “This new contract is going to change my life,” said Juan Varela, a Flying Food Group worker who coordinates between kitchens and drivers who deliver food to airplanes. “I used to pay $332 a month for my health insurance and now I won’t have to pay any money out of my check for full coverage for me and my family.”

 Workers from Flying Food Group LAX are now calling on major airlines like Delta, American, and United to take action to ensure that the 18,000 airline catering workers employed by the two largest airline catering subcontractors, Gate Gourmet and LSG Sky Chefs, are also compensated with better health care and higher wages.

 “I am happy and proud of what we have won. I won’t have to choose between healthcare coverage and paying my rent. It’s time, now, for American, Delta and United Airlines to make sure that all other airline catering workers have this same piece of mind. One job should be enough for everyone who works in the airline industry.” said Norma Reyes, who works at Flying Food Group setting up liquor carts for flights out of LAX.

 # # #

 UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union that represents over 31,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. Our members work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.     


Press Release: Kevin De Leon, Workers and Immigrant Rights Activists File for Investigation of Immigration-Related Threats


Press Release: 02/22/2019
Media Contact: Maria Hernandez
Cell: 623-340-8047
Email: mhernandez[at]unitehere11[dot]org

 Kevin De Leon, Workers and Immigrant Rights Activists File for Investigation of Immigration-Related Threats Against Freehand Employees

If you keep organizing, management will check your papers, workers say

 Los Angeles, CA- Nearly 75 workers, immigrants’ rights groups like CARECEN, CHIRLA, Miguel Contreras Foundation, KIWA and former State Senator Kevin De Leon filed an official complaint calling on the California Labor Commissioner to investigate the Freehand Hotel for allegedly making immigration-related threats against its employees for exercising their rights under the California Labor Code.

 The complaint relies on protections under AB 263 (2013), which prohibits employers from engaging in unfair immigration-related practices against employees in retaliation for exercising their Labor Code rights. 

 “A security guard looked for me when I was working and said that the General Manager was going to check our papers and fire us if we continued to organize,” said Mirna Lopez, a Public Areas Attendant at the Freehand Hotel for two years.

 This is one of the first times that the protections for immigrant workers enacted under AB 263 are being put to use in Los Angeles. If found in violation, the Freehand Hotel could have all of its licenses temporarily suspended.

 Among supporters was former State Senator Kevin De Leon, who said, “We are all human beings, and we all deserve to live with dignity and respect.”

 For months now, workers at the Freehand have been organizing in response to poor working conditions and possible wage theft.  In January, workers and LGBTQ allies held an actionoutside of the hotel after a security guard allegedly made offensive remarks referencing the Westboro Baptist Church to a group of clergy and LGBTQ activists who spoke out in support of the workers.

 “The hotel increased our workload, and in order to finish we skip our breaks. The pressure sometimes forces us to work off the clock and the hotel knows about this and does nothing, so we decided to come together and organize,” said Elva Sarceño, a housekeeper at the Freehand Hotel for two years.

 Workers are asking for a fair process to organize.

 The operator of the Freehand Hotel, Sydell Group also operates the LINE Hotel in Koreatown, where workers have a union and are currently in contract negotiations.

 ###

UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union that represents over 31,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. Our members work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports. 


Press Release: Flying Food Group Workers Vote 98% to Strike

Press Release:  02/14/2019
Press Contact: Maria Hernandez
Cell: 623-340-8047
Email: mhernandez[at]unitehere11[dot]org

 Airline Catering workers at Flying Food Group vote 98% to Strike Saying They are Fed Up with Poverty Wages and Costly Health Insurance

 Los Angeles, CA- UNITE HERE Local 11 Airline catering workers at Flying Food Group at LAX voted 98% this evening to go on strike, when weeks of negotiations for better wages and affordable health insurance have not yet yielded results. Flying Food Group at LAX employs a total of nearly 700 workers, and if workers walk this will be the second UNITE HERE strike at Flying Foods in recent years.

 Airline catering workers in companies such as Flying Food Group, Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet prepare the food provided to airline passengers – meaning that certain planes cannot take off from the tarmac until being serviced by these workers, and a potential strike could cause serious travel delays in and out of LAX. Airline catering workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 11 service many major airlines, such as Delta, United, and American Airlines, who in 2017 had record breaking profits of $40 Billion worldwide.

 Workers at Flying Food Group at LAX are the first to authorize a strike in what could be a big year for Airline Catering workers across the country, with industry giant Sky Chefs contract already expired.  In total, 18,000 UNITE HERE airline catering workers will be negotiating their contracts in 2019 – making this strike authorization highly significant. With Flight Attendants warning of possible mass workplace actions as early as this Saturday related to a possible government shutdown, UNITE HERE’s strike authorization at LAX comes on top of a series of major travel disruptions facing airline travelers already in 2019.

 Workers like Norma Reyes and Juan Varela voted to strike because they still do not make enough money to afford the health coverage provided by Flying Food Group. “I voted to strike because I want affordable health insurance. I currently pay $332 dollars a month for my health insurance through the company,” says Juan Varela, a Flying Food Group employee of 6 years.

Norma Reyes experiences the same issues.  Wages are too low and the health insurance is not affordable. “As a single mother of three kids my wage of $14 an hour is not enough to cover my basic expenses like food, rent and utilities,” says Reyes.

“I cannot afford to pay the health insurance provided by the company because it is too expensive. It is wrong to make me, a single mother of three, choose between putting food on my families’ table and taking my daughter to the doctor.” – Norma Reyes, Flying Food Group, 8 years.

Airline catering workers are among the lowest paid in the heavily unionized airline industry and UNITE HERE Local 11 is committed to raising the standards for all airline catering workers.

In December of last year, hundreds of airline catering workers in cities across the United States held actions to send Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines a clear message that they are Fed Up with poverty wages and unaffordable health insurance going into 2019.

 ###

UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union that represents over 30,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. Our members work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports. 

Labor's role in environmental advocacy

On January 10, the LA Times reported that the hotel and restaurant workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 11, has filed environmental objections in recent years to real estate projects in Southern California. That is true. However, rather than recognizing the impacts development has on the air quality, transport, and housing in the low-income communities union members live in, the article insinuates that UNITE HERE’s work is part of a union conspiracy seeking to extort developers. By leaving out the stories of hospitality workers and the challenges working people face in Southern California’s environment, the article turns the world upside down and makes housekeepers, dishwashers and bussers who advocate for a better environment the criminals, while making wealthy developers who cheat our environmental process the victims.

 Southern California is experiencing an unprecedented explosion of development, especially of hotels, event centers, and luxury hospitality. The Times has reported the enormity of this wave in several articles. “Downtown Los Angeles hasn't seen this much construction since the 1920s.”  Many of the development projects receive public subsidies, and those subsidies often benefit luxury hospitality development over the housing, parks and transit construction that low-wage workers need. These needs are not served by the current direction of the development wave and in many cases this wave is exacerbating environmental problems for working people.

 Low-wage immigrant and African-American hospitality workers of Southern California live among the nation's worst environmental justice hot spots, as was reported by this publication in 2015. The Times twice reported on the impact of air pollution on immigrant and African American children, and photographed children playing at a Long Beach school near an oil refinery, freeway, railroad line and seaport. “Children born and raised near inner-city pollution sources can wind up with reduced white matter in their brains and greater developmental and behavioral problems, a study suggests.”

 UNITE HERE’s members and their families live in these neighborhoods and attend these schools because they cannot afford to live in the areas with better air quality. Those workers that have managed to keep their homes in centers of hotel development like Hollywood and Santa Monica are finding the wave of gentrification harder to resist as cranes, construction noise, short term rentals and luxury condominiums pop up all around them.

 We have a responsibility to make sure this massive wave of development improves the environment for working people instead of adding to the problem. California courts have ruled that unions and their members have standing to make environmental claims.

Hotels should have transit plans for workers and customers. They should build trees into the design of the building, they should integrate affordable housing, they should be sensitive to the nearby neighbors, and they should use water-saving machinery. Development subsidies like zoning changes and height limit waivers should be offered more to affordable housing projects than for luxury hotels.

UNITE HERE Local 11 advocates for design, mitigation, and community benefit provisions that improve housing, transport, and the environment in our communities. The Union mobilizes its members to attend hearings and to speak up in favor of projects that serve their needs of to oppose ones that are threats to housing, that force workers into longer commutes through worsening traffic, or that damage the environment we live in.

 There is nothing new or nefarious about Unions advocating for environmental protections. UNITE HERE Local 11 has roots in the movement of the United Farm Workers Union of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who led multiple efforts to ban pesticides used on grapes and strawberries and called for testing grapes in stores to see if they were contaminated with poisonous residues.

 Environmentalists stood with workers in creating OSHA, the first agency dedicated to worker health and safety on the job. The UAW and Steelworkers sponsored the first Earth Day in 1970 and supported some of the first environmental laws including the National Environmental Policy Act, the inspiration for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

 Today, the blue collar-green alliance in Los Angeles is strong. Unions and the environmental movement have fought for cleaner trucks and sustainable jobs at the Ports of Los Angeles. UNITE HERE has stood with Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental organizations to support progressive zoning in Los Angeles and Santa Monica that will create new housing, including affordable housing near transit. These are efforts that should be celebrated, and expanded.

 Ada Briceno, Co President of UNITE HERE Local 11 and Member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Environment Justice Community Partnership Advisory Council

Allen Hernandez, Executive Director, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)

Caroline Farrell, Executive Director, Center on Race, Poverty and Environment (CRPE)

Antonio Diaz, Executive Director, People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER)

 David Pettit, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

As US District Judge Holds Ruling on DACA, Union Vows to Keep Fighting

As US District Judge Holds Ruling on DACA, Union Vows to Keep Fighting

UNITE HERE Local 11 stands with immigrant workers

Today, as US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas declined to issue a temporary injunction against DACA renewals, he also hinted that he’ll rule against DACA’s constitutionality in three weeks.  UNITE HERE Local 11 leadership continues to stand with its members who have DACA and keep up the fight, regardless of his eventual ruling.

“One thing we can agree on with Judge Hanen: we need Congress to take action and resolve the legal limbo that DACA recipients find themselves in,” said Ada Briceño, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.  “It isn’t right to change the rules every few months for people who’ve been contributing to the US almost all of their lives.”

Bevonnie Bailey is a member of Local 11 and a DACA recipient. “It’s stressful to go through these legal battles, not knowing what will happen to me and my US-born children. We need to be prepared for the next challenge, and the next challenge. I can’t trust that judges are going to get it right; I need to continue to fight for myself and my family.”

UNITE HERE Local 11 Statement

UNITE HERE Local 11 Statement

UNITE HERE Local 11 denounces the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the “Muslim Ban” case, initiated by travel bans announced by the Trump administration in the spring of 2017.

Response by UNITE HERE Local 11 regarding Disney bonus announcement

Response by UNITE HERE Local 11 regarding Disney bonus announcement

Disneyland housekeepers.png

Statement by Ada Briceño, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, regarding the Walt Disney Company’s announcement Tuesday to give 125,000 U.S. non-managerial staff a one-time $1,000 cash bonus and seed an employee education program with $50 million.

Walt Disney Company stands to reap an estimated $2 billion after the tax cuts passed late last year. The company says they will spend less than 10% of this tax bill windfall—$175 million this fiscal year—starting an education program and giving bonuses to its employees. 

Disney says it “will work with union representatives regarding potential distribution plans for employees currently working under existing union contracts.” UNITE HERE Local 11 can tell Disney our position now: the company should pay the bonuses immediately, without forcing conditions or holding them subject to our ongoing contract negotiations.

Local 11 represents 2,700 cast members at Disneyland who have been negotiating with Disney since December 2016. The largest group of these members are housekeepers, whose starting wage is the state minimum of $11 per hour. After ten years, a Disneyland housekeeper earns $13.50 per hour. By contrast, starting wages for housekeepers at the nearby Sheraton Park and Anaheim Hilton are both over $16 per hour.

Our members are negotiating for real improvements: raises that take us out of poverty, affordable family health care, and humane workloads. Disney should agree to all of these improvements as part of a fair contract settlement. A one-time bonus will not alter our focus or resolve.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Statement on Pardon of Joe Arpaio

Adios Arpaio sign logo.png

UNITE HERE Local 11 strongly condemns President Trump's decision to pardon former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In 2012, UNITE HERE partnered with local community organizations to create Adiós Arpaio, a movement of young leaders and workers who mobilized to register 35,000 voters in Maricopa County.

In 2016, Maricopa County voters overwhelmingly voted Sheriff Arpaio out of office after 26 years because they were tired of Arpaio's lack of respect for the law. From deplorable conditions in county jails to hundreds of unsolved rape cases, Arpaio was finally handed a criminal conviction for contempt of court because he defied a federal order to stop using racial profiling to detain Latinos. Arpaio’s conviction simply verified what thousands of us have known all along: he didn’t care about the rule of law and worse, he used his office to terrorize the very people he was sworn to protect.

President Trump has chosen to tie his own legacy to the very actions that Maricopa County voters rejected in 2016. Working families, students, citizens, and non-citizens will continue to unite and organize against the latest bully. We did it once, and we will do it again.

 

UNITE HERE to Court: Lift Injunction Blocking DACA and DAPA

UNITE HERE to Court: Lift Injunction Blocking DACA and DAPA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR FRIDAY, APRIL 17 

Contact: Ofelia Carrillo, 323-817-9804; ocarrillo@unitehere11.org

Today, community and labor leaders from across Los Angeles rallied to raise their voices along with hundreds of activists, asking to restore relief to millions of immigrants by allowing the President’s new DAPA and DACA program expansion to proceed. 

Check out images of the conference on Facebook here: http://bit.ly/immgaction 

The call to action was answered with mobilizations throughout the country, uniting in their demands that the court of appeals to allow DAPA and DACA to move forward. A panel of three judges in New Orleans can decide the fate of about 5 million immigrants lives in the country. 

This morning, as the first day of oral arguments were being heard at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, statements in support of lifting the injunction were made by Maria Elena Durazo, General Vice President of Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity at UNITE HERE, Zocorro Vazquez, Clergy Leader at LA Voice Faith Leaders, Maegan Ortiz, Executive Director at the Institute for Popular Education in Southern California (IDEPSCA), Mariano Hernandez, day laborer and member at the Central American Resource Center(CARECEN), Cristina Navarro, housekeeper and member of UNITE HERE Local 11, and Yahayra Rojas, DACA-mented senior at the School of Justice at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex.     

“Anti-immigrant politicians are using every delay tactic to stop the implementation of DACA and DAPA, but the law is on our side,” says Maria Elena Durazo, the General Vice President of Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity with UNITE HERE. “At stake in this lawsuit are the lives of millions of hardworking immigrants who should not have to work or live in fear.”

Nationwide, UNITE HERE represents thousands of people working in hotels, casinos and food service industries who will be directly impacted by the expansion of DACA and DAPA. Despite delays, UNITE HERE reconfirmed their commitment to press forward with efforts to assist immigrant workers and their families. Community organizations present like IDEPSCA, CARECEN and LA Voice Faith Leaders, also enlisted their organizations for the future implementation of the DACA/DAPA expansion. 

In the coming months, UNITE HERE will be rolling out a plan to help women and men apply for legal status and work permits. See images from the press conference on Facebook: http://bit.ly/immgaction

MVP Labor Leader, Maria Elena Durazo

By John Nichols,
The Nation Magazine, Dec 22, 2014

At a time when organized labor has faced an unrelenting assault nationwide, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has gone from strength to strength under Durazo’s leadership. The veteran secretary-treasurer of the federation of unions representing 600,000 workers is credited by the Los Angeles Times with having “lifted an already strong [LA] labor movement to a preeminent position of influence in civic affairs.” Read more

Most Influential in 2014: Ada Briceño

By Leonar Chan
OC Register, Dec. 21, 2014

In 2014, Local 11 pushed through an L.A. ordinance requiring at least $15.37 an hour at the city’s large hotels, one of the most successful campaigns to raise wages in the nation. In Anaheim, the union won union recognition of 900 food service workers at Angel Stadium. Briceño is also a founder of Orange County Communities Organized For Responsible Development, a nonprofit that has helped 2,500 immigrants gain citizenship. Read more.