Los Angeles: Today, thousands of UNITE HERE Local 11 hotel workers at multiple properties walked out on strike fighting for wages to keep up with the rising cost of housing and a new contract.
The strike comes as the citywide convention of the American Political Science Association (APSA) begins on Wednesday in Los Angeles. Hundreds of APSA members have canceled their plans to attend after APSA leadership defied requests by hotel workers to cancel the event.
Last week, the workers’ call for conventions to boycott and stay away from Los Angeles marked a major escalation in the largest hotel worker strike in U.S. history. Joining the workers’ call were APSA members, SEIU Local 99, AFSCME Local 3299, and others.
“As a mother I often have to choose between paying for my rent and buying groceries. The solution is simple, hotels need to agree to the wages that we need to stay housed. Until then, we will continue to call on all groups and conventions coming to Los Angeles to boycott,” said Delmy Cabañas, Housekeeper at the JW Marriott L.A LIVE.
“Strikes and disruption will be the norm at LA hotels until the industry pays its workers a living wage. We are saddened that APSA leadership sided with greedy hotel corporations over the call of workers for a living wage. We applaud those political science professors who stayed away from LA. Those professors who came to LA will reside in, to borrow the hotel industry’s new slogan, ‘Hotel Hell.’ Dirty rooms and non stop noise will be the only amenities,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.
“For those who are deciding on whether to hold your event in LA including FIFA and the Olympics, the choice is clear. On one side, there is the boundless greed and violent conduct of rapacious corporations. On the other side, there is the sacrifice, solidarity and courage of these workers fighting for a living wage. Which side are you on?”
Los Angeles: Today, UNITE HERE Local 11 members, along with representatives from future citywide conventions and events, announced a boycott of Los Angeles, until the hotel industry pays a living wage and puts an end to violence against its striking members. The workers’ call for conventions to stay away from Los Angeles marks a major escalation in the largest hotel worker strike in U.S. history.
In a statement of support, Kathryn Lybarger President AFSCME 3299 said, “AFSCME 3299 stands in solidarity with the brave workers of UNITE HERE Local 11 and their struggle for justice and ability to live and thrive in the Los Angeles economy they helped build. Until the workers win the fair settlement they are fighting for, AFSCME 3299 will honor their boycott and picket lines. We commit to not spend a dime of our members’ money in any boycotted Los Angeles hotel or business. Our money will however be going towards supporting striking workers. Today we donate $25,000 and pledge to do all we can to stand with them until they win. Their struggle is our struggle.
“We moved our event twice, to stand with hotel workers. We call on our nonprofit and for-profit friends. Move your conferences, and gatherings to places that value hospitality workers, their servers, their housekeepers – move your events or boycott LA!” said Ana Grande, Executive Director of the Program for Torture Victims.
“SEIU Local 99 members are proud to support the boycott of hotels that disrespect workers. Our union canceled business with Hotel Maya this summer. At our urging, the LAUSD school board also agreed not to do business with hotels that have active labor disputes. Instead of responding with violence and threats, hotel corporations need to know that when workers are under attack – we fight back on the picket line and with our pocketbooks,” said Max Arias, Executive Director of SEIU Local 99.
“I am fighting to keep a roof over my head. Right now 80% of my income goes toward rent for my studio apartment. My wages are not keeping up with the high cost of living. That is why we call on all upcoming conventions to boycott Los Angeles until we get the wages we deserve.” said Cristina Betancourt, housekeeper at the Ritz Carlton/JW Marriott LA LIVE.
Already, the hotel strikes have caused many groups such as the Democratic Governors Association, the Japanese American Citizens League, and The Council of State Governments West to relocate, suspend or cancel their events. Hundreds of members of the American Political Science Association (APSA), who has a 6,000-person convention set in Los Angeles on Labor Day weekend, have canceled their plans to attend after APSA leadership defied request by hotel workers to cancel the event.
“Many political science professors have already pledged to not attend the APSA convention Labor Day weekend. I call on all academic organizations including APSA, to protect the integrity of their organization and to stand with hotel workers. Honor their boycott,” said Peter Dreier, longtime member of the American Political Science Association.
Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11 said, “For those who are deciding on whether to hold your event in LA including FIFA and the Olympics, the choice is clear. On one side, there is the boundless greed and violent conduct of rapacious corporations. On the other side, there is the sacrifice, solidarity and courage of these workers fighting for a living wage. Which side are you on?”
Workers have demanded an immediate $5 an hour raise so that they can afford to live in the city where they work. The industry walked away from the bargaining table a month ago and has used and hotels have been accused of inciting or condoning violence against striking workers. Earlier this month, the union filed federal labor charges against the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, Hotel Maya in Long Beach and the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point alleging hotel management committed or condoned violence against their own employees while they have been on strike and picketing.
Los Angeles is arguably the world’s epicenter of tourism. No other city has ever hosted the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics back to back, as Los Angeles is set to do in 2026 and 2028, respectively. Local 11 will ask all future groups, including FIFA and the Olympics, to boycott the city to support their demands.
Workers, including here in my home state of California, are fighting for fair pay, good benefits, and a voice at work. As the President and I always say, every worker — from writers, to actors, to hospitality and municipal workers — deserves a fair contract.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 18, 2023