Hospitality workers demand Los Angeles leaders include them in the decision-making process
Los Angeles: Today, UNITE HERE Local 11 released a report outlining its vision for what the 2028 Olympic Games could look like for workers and residents of Los Angeles as the city council is set to vote in the coming weeks on a games agreement.
The city plans to enter into the Olympic Games Agreement with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and LA28, the private nonprofit responsible for the 2028 Games, by November 1. Despite multiple public records requests by UNITE HERE Local 11, no details of what is actually in the agreement have been made public.
The 32,000 members of UNITE HERE Local 11 assert that the professional tourism workers who will make these events successful must be among those who benefit from these decisions. The Olympics Games must succeed in three key areas:
Good hospitality jobs: For the Olympics to benefit our communities, we need to ensure that the workers whose labor will make the Games possible have good, family-sustaining jobs.
“The stadiums and event centers that host the Olympic athletes and guests are our stadiums, and they need to provide people with good jobs that give us a fighting chance for a better life,” said Ana Diaz, member of UNITE HERE Local 11 and food service worker at Banc of California Stadium.
Hiring and retention of Black workers: There must be a commitment to ensuring that more Black workers—who have historically been excluded from the hospitality industry and its best positions—are hired and retained.
“The Olympics can make it harder for African Americans in the hospitality industry, or it can be an opportunity to protect existing Black workers’ jobs and create a pipeline for good jobs for Black workers in Los Angeles,” said Chris Smith, a bartender at SoFi Stadium and the Anaheim Convention Center.
End the housing crisis: With Los Angeles facing an unprecedented housing crisis, the Olympics can exacerbate this problem, by converting housing into short-term rentals (STRs) through its official partnership with Airbnb, or it can protect existing renters and meaningfully contribute to affordable housing production.
“The longer I’ve lived in LA, the more expensive it has become. I lived on the West Side for many years but because of how expensive rent is, my daughter and I have had to move further and further away from LAX. Now I live in Compton in a converted garage with no kitchen. I spend almost three hours every day getting to and from work because I rely on public transportation. People like me who are the backbone of the airport deserve to be able to afford to live near where we work,” said Laura Banuet, member of UNITE HERE Local 11 and food service worker at LAX since 2016.
Similar agreements for past Olympics have contained detailed descriptions of each entity’s obligations, including police budgets and the rights of corporate sponsors. As outlined in Local 11’s report, the Olympics in London, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo caused gentrification and further displaced thousands of residents from their homes to make way for the Games.
“The decision making must not only be transparent, but we need to be at the table. The Olympic Games are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our industry and our city. If the Olympics are to benefit our communities, the workers whose labor will make the Games possible must have family-sustaining jobs,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.
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