PRESS ADVISORY: U.S Senator Bernie Sanders Rallies with Workers from the Hotel Figueroa, Aimbridge, and Blackstone in Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles: Senator Bernie Sanders will join rallying workers at Hotel Figueroa on Friday afternoon as part of his visit to the region. Workers at the historic property have been embroiled in a labor dispute for the last eight months as part of the largest hotel worker strike in modern U.S. history and are among those at the 26 hotels that have yet to settle new contracts.

The rally comes as thousands of hotel workers at 35 hotels ratified their contract with an immediate $5 wage increase and $10 increase over the life of the contract, bringing housekeepers up to $35 an hour just before the 2028 Olympics.

But other hotel workers–particularly those at hotels owned or operated by private equity corporations–are still struggling. At the Hotel Figueroa–owned by private equity giant BentallGreenOak (BGO), striking workers allege someone fired ball pellets at them, apparently using an air rifle, while they peacefully picketed outside the hotel in January.  A month later at the same hotel, the food and beverage operator abruptly terminated its operations and fired its workers—only for the restaurant to reopen days later with a new operator contracted by BGO but without its veteran workers.  This week, a class action lawsuit was filed alleging that owner and operators violated workers rights under Los Angeles Hotel Worker Retention Law.

Workers at hotels by other private equity firms—Advent International, owner of Aimbridge Hospitality, and the behemoth firm Blackstone—remain without a contract providing fair working conditions. Of the hotels who have yet to settle, 78% are owned or operated by private equity firms. Workers from those hotels owned by each of these firms will rally with Senator Sanders.

Tourism workers across Los Angeles, including hotel and airport workers, are also calling for the City to raise its minimum wage rates across their sector.  Demanding an “Olympic Wage,” they are calling on the City Council to raise the minimum wage for tourism workers to $25 an hour immediately with increases of a dollar each year each year until the Olympics arrive in LA in 2028.

BREAKING: Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Hotel Figueroa Owner BGO and Operators Violated Los Angeles Hotel Worker Retention Law

Los Angeles–Today, a laid-off cook, Maria Ibarra, filed a class action lawsuit alleging violations of Los Angeles’s Hotel Worker Retention Ordinance at the Hotel Figueroa where more than a hundred workers have lost their jobs.

Located at the corner of Figueroa Street and Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, the Hotel Figueroa is an iconic 14-floor building, which, in addition to guest rooms, features two destination restaurants, Sparrow Italia and Café Fig, and several other food and beverage outlets.

The hotel has been the site of controversy since, as reported in the LA Times, the hotel’s former food and beverage operator, Noble 33, abruptly terminated its operations and laid off its employees in February.

The lawsuit alleges that the Hotel Figueroa’s owner BGO (formerly GreenOak Real Estate) and operators have violated a city ordinance meant to protect workers’ jobs when there are changes in management by failing to retain them when the new operator took over.

The Hotel Worker Retention Ordinance was enacted to address the problem of mass layoffs of hotel workers that have occurred historically when corporate ownership or management of a hotel changes.  The ordinance requires that new owners or operators retain the site’s employees for a transitional period, ensuring employment stabilization for community members and alleviating the demands for social services for newly-unemployed workers.

The class action lawsuit alleges that, just days after Noble 33 ceased operations and laid off its employees, BGO and its primary operator Highgate contracted with a new company, The Botanical Group, to serve as the operator for the hotel’s Café Fig and other outlets.  Café Fig and other food and beverage operations were quickly reopened, but without their former non-management staff.

“We service workers are not disposable. We’re not something to be tossed aside when we’re no longer convenient. I am filing this lawsuit to make sure our rights are respected,” said Maria Ibarra, the lead plaintiff, a former cook at Hotel Figueroa.

The lawsuit accuses the BGO, Highgate, and Botanical Group of unlawfully failing to retain veteran employees. The suit also alleges that former operator Noble 33 failed to facilitate the transition by timely providing all necessary information about the workers to the other companies.

Ms. Ibarra and the putative class of affected Hotel Figueroa workers are represented by Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law and Jeremy Blasi in his individual capacity.

PRESS RELEASE: Boycott of Hotel Figueroa and Restaurant Operator, The Botanical Group, Declared Following Firings, Shootings, and Unsettled Labor Dispute; Letter Signed by Hundreds Delivered

LOS ANGELES:  UNITE HERE Local 11 and dozens of workers and clergy leaders from CLUE held a press conference calling for a boycott of the Hotel Figueroa and The Botanical Group, which is the newest restaurant operator, on Thursday.  The worker-called boycott marks a significant escalation in a months-long labor dispute that began last July.

“I’m calling for a boycott of the hotel because our jobs are very difficult, and the company’s response to our strike and their failure to sign a fair contract has shown that they don’t value or respect us,” said Noelia Gonzales, room attendant at the Figueroa Hotel.

The hotel’s workers, who have been protesting and striking for wages enabling them to afford to live in Los Angeles amid soaring housing costs, have faced violence on the picket line.  During a strike in January, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, workers were fired upon by a sniper, apparently using an air rifle, with large metal ball bearings.  They have taken to wearing bullet proof vests and helmets on the picket lines.  The unknown assailant remains at large.

“I was shot twice with metal ball bearings from across the street while on strike with my coworkers. I was hit on my neck and feet. We do not deserve to risk our safety simply because we are advocating for ourselves. I want there to be justice, and for the violence that we endured to not go unnoticed, that is why we are calling for a boycott,” said Felix Vanegas, houseman at the Figueroa Hotel.

Making matters even worse, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, more than one hundred food and beverage workers were fired in February by the hotel’s former food and beverage operator after workers began an effort to unionize.  After a brief closure, a new operator reopened the Cafe Fig and other outlets, but without the workers who had staffed the restaurant for years.  UNITE HERE Local 11 has requested that the Office of Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto investigate potential violations of Los Angeles’s Hotel Worker Retention Ordinance.

Workers and community allies delivered a letter signed by nearly 500  people demanding that the hotel bring back the “Figueroa 100.” Workers are calling for tourists and visitors to choose alternatives for any travel and events until all of the workers have won the dignity and respect they deserve and the fired restaurant workers are returned to work.

“We denounce the violence picketing workers have endured with metal ball pellets shot at them while on strike and we demand the hotel bring back the Figueroa 100. Why should workers have to be out in the street subjecting themselves to this kind of violence-literally picketing in bulletproof vests, helmets, and goggles?  It should not take this kind of bravery to simply get a company to pay wages that workers can live on.  You cannot treat people like this,” said Ada Briceño, co-president UNITE HERE Local 11.

Joining the workers was Reverend Edgar Colon of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, “CLUE will join the boycott of this establishment, and will neither eat, meet, sleep or gather here until the issues that the workers have laid out have been resolved.


The march on October 25 was historic and monumental. Did you feel our power? “You are the muscle in the room.” Susan Minato, Co-President, UNITE HERE Local 11.


10/25/23: an incredible day for Local 11 workers from Century Blvd to Sky Harbor airport, Downtown LA to Downtown Phoenix, Santa Monica to Orange County, and beyond! We went on strike to win the wages, benefits, and working conditions we deserve—and we’ll keep fighting until we win.