Arizona Activists Descend on AZ Attorney General’s Office to Protest Republican Voter Suppression and Demand Federal Action to Protect Voting Rights

Phoenix, AZ – Nine people were taken into Phoenix Police Department custody after participating in a peaceful civil disobedience outside of Attorney General Brnovich’s office Thursday morning as part of a rally and picket line protesting his relentless attacks on Arizonans’ voting rights.

“We are telling Mark Brnovich, our Attorney General, that we will not just sit by and watch as our rights are stripped away. We deserve real national voting rights legislation and we will do whatever it takes to make that happen,” said Joshua Wells, a community organizer.

On July 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in support of Brnovich’s defense of two restrictive voting laws. The decision gutted Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, undermining historic protections against racial discrimination in elections. Additionally, the Arizona state legislature passed a flurry of anti-voter measures at the tail end of the session that concluded last week. One of those bills requires the Secretary of State to provide voter information, including’ date of birth and part of their Social Security number, to a third-party private vendor who could then remove them from the voter rolls.

At the same time, the Arizona legislature took the unprecedented move of removing powers from the Secretary of State and conferring them on the Arizona Attorney General, a move that coincides with the end of Secretary Katie Hobbs’ term. Attorney General Brnovich announced his intention to run for U. S. Senate in 2022 on June 10.

“We have brave freedom fighters here today who are going to demand justice from our Attorney General and demand that he stop attacking the freedom to vote. When you have a complicit governor, a complicit attorney general, [and a] complicit majority-Republican legislature, there’s only so much we can do here today,” said State Representative Athena Salman, addressing the crowd, “We need Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Mark Kelly and President Joe Biden to stand up. We delivered for them and now they have to deliver for us. The number one thing, the foundation of our democracy, is protecting our freedom to vote.

More than 75 attended the action that highlighted the need for the For the People Act – federal voting rights legislation – to protect against the 350+ voter suppression bills introduced across 47 states since January 2021.

The same coalition recently completed a weeklong freedom ride to Washington D.C for voting rights.

Relief for Workers, Not Billionaire Corporations Like HMS Host

Statement by UNITE HERE Local 11 on Los Angeles World Airports Board of Airport Commissioners vote to accept $36.78 million in an American Rescue Plan Act concessionaire relief grant at the July 8, 2021 Special Meeting

HMS Host LAX workers and Ron Herrera outside Los Angeles City HallLos Angeles–Los Angeles World Airport staff have recommended that the Board of Airport Commissioners vote to accept federal grant offers for American Rescue Plan program funds at their special meeting on July 8, 2021. The Federal Aviation Administration allocated $36,785,751 for concessionaire relief at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). UNITE HERE Local 11 members at HMS Host demand that, should LAWA accept federal aid, it must require concessionaires like billionaire firm HMS Host to direct all relief to the workers that have struggled through the pandemic.

LAWA extended rent relief twice during the pandemic, providing minimum annual guarantee waivers and 24-month lease extensions for concessionaires like HMS Host. HMS Host is the largest airport concessionaire in North America and operates approximately 47% of all food and beverage concessions at LAX. UNITE HERE Local 11 estimates that because of LAWA’s actions, HMS Host escaped paying more than $4 million in rent between April 2020 and March 2021 for their two direct contracts. This does not include additional relief from the terminal concession manager, URW Airports, which URW passed down to sub-tenants like HMS Host.

Meanwhile, hundreds of HMS Host workers were laid off at the start of the pandemic and many are still waiting to return to their jobs.

HMS Host is a wealthy corporation, whose parent company, Autogrill, is owned by Italian billionaires through a holding company with a net asset value of $12.9 billion as of December 31, 2020. The airport provided more than enough relief throughout the pandemic and concessionaires like HMS Host must prioritize supporting airport workers. Domestic passenger traffic at LAX for May 2021 is at 61% of May 2019, before the pandemic. According to TSA screening numbers, travel peaked nationwide last week leading up to Independence Day with screening numbers exceeding 2019 levels. With travel recovering and significant aid already given to the firm, we believe HMS Host does not need nor does it deserve any additional relief from the American Rescue Plan Act concessionaire relief grant offered to LAX.

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Civil Rights Fight of our Lifetime: Hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 11 Members & Community Allies Launch Freedom Ride From Phoenix, AZ to Washington D.C to Pass the For the People Act


Who: UNITE HERE Local 11, CASE Action, Black Voters Matter, and other community allies
What: Launch freedom ride to urge the Senate to pass the For the People Act
When: Launch June 18, 2021 from Phoenix, AZ – June 26th, 2021 Washington, D.C
Phoenix, AZ: In 2020, UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action knocked on a million doors to turn Arizona blue and went to Georgia to take back the Senate. Now, UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action join Black Voters Matter on a historic 10-day Freedom Ride from Arizona to Washington D.C to ask lawmakers to do what is necessary to pass the For the People Act.

Since the 2020 general election, over 350 anti-voter bills have been introduced in 47 states. For Arizonans, the attack on voting rights demonstrates the need for federal legislation to protect voters. The For the People Act would protect voting rights by prohibiting gerrymandering and unnecessary voter roll purges, guaranteeing transparency for election contributions, protecting the right to vote by mail, and automatically registering eligible Americans to vote.

Inspired by the Freedom Rides of the 1960’s Civil Rights era, freedom riders will drive across the South with stops at historical cities like Tulsa, OK, Little Rock, AK, Montgomery, AL and more. Four buses are launching from Phoenix, AZ with members from Arizona and California on board. They will join three other bus routes and converge on Washington D.C. by June 26. While in D.C., members plan to lobby elected officials on behalf of the For the People Act.

Background: The For the People Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives but now awaits a vote in the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future with the filibuster. One of Arizona’s senators, Kyrsten Sinema, has repeatedly said that she is unwilling to reform or eliminate the filibuster. Members hope to meet with her and share their voting-rights concerns while in Washington D.C.

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CASE Action Fund is an economic justice organization dedicated to improving the lives of Arizona’s working families through policy advocacy and increasing participation in the political process

 

WeHo Hotel Workers and Allies March to City Hall to Demand Immediate Action

After the City Council and City Manager discussed postponement of hotel worker protection policy during Monday’s Council meeting, workers and allies deliver petition to City Hall with 100 worker signatures in support of protection ordinance 

West Hollywood, CA: Over 30 workers and community allies, including a representative from the Stonewall Democratic Club and West Hollywood residents, marched to City Hall to deliver a petition in support of the anticipated hotel worker protection policy after a delay in the vote was announced during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

“I worked at the Standard for 16 years, and I still have no idea if I will be recalled back to work. Why would the city delay this?” said Sandra Pellecer, a former cook at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, as she attempted to deliver the petition with 100 worker signatures to City Hall.

The policy is aimed at ensuring workers in the hotel industry, many of whom have dedicated decades of service to the industry, have jobs to return to as the economy reopens. The policy will also contain a series of measures to address the constellation of industry-wide problems that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as sexual assault, inadequate compensation for heavy workloads, and the lack of comprehensive, standardized training.

With the industry scheduled to reopen in less than a week, dozens of laid off hotel workers urged the City to bring the ordinance to a vote as soon as possible.

“We need to know that we will return to jobs where we have enough time to clean rooms thoroughly,” said Norma Hernandez, a room attendant who worked at the Mondrian for 12 years. “Before I was laid off, I would clean 12 rooms in a day. I was constantly racing against the clock to finish my assignment, and would even go without water to avoid bathroom breaks to save time. We need to be compensated fairly for this work if we are recalled.”

Similar worker retention ordinances have been passed in many cities across the region, including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, and Los Angeles County. In 2019, the city of Santa Monica passed a historic Housekeeper Bill of Rights with similar panic button, workload compensation, training, and worker retention measures. Santa Monica also passed right of recall in the wake of 9/11.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, 95% of hotel workers were laid off, most left without healthcare or job security, and many after decades in the industry. Workers in the hotel industry are overwhelmingly immigrants and women of color, some of the hardest hit amid the pandemic.

The policy would ensure that hotel workers are a part of a just economic recovery for West Hollywood.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Supports LACDP’s Vote for Sheriff Alex Villanueva to Resign

UNITE HERE Local 11 Supports  LACDP’s Vote for Sheriff Alex Villanueva to Resign

Passage comes ahead of one-year “Angelversary” marking the death of Andres Guardado

 

Los Angeles, CA: Tonight, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party voted 91% in favor of a resolution calling for the accountability and resignation of Sheriff Alex Villanueva. The party initially endorsed Villanueva during his election.

The killing of Andres Guardado was outlined as key evidence for the approval of the resolution. On June 18, 2020 while working as a security guard in Gardena, LASD deputies shot Guardado five times in the back, as reported by two independent autopsies. The eighteen-year-old had gotten the job at an auto body shop to help provide for his family after his father, a hotel worker and UNITE HERE Local 11 member, was laid off due to COVID-19.

The resolution was led by UNITE HERE Local 11 who first launched efforts for Sheriff Villanueva to resign in July 2020 with groups like Black Lives Matter, ACLU, and CLUE. 

 “We want to thank the leadership and members of the Los Angeles Democratic Party for their strong and courageous vote. Tonight’s vote is an important moment in our union’s fight to stand up against the atrocities of the Sheriff’s department under Alex Villanueva,” said Ada Briceno UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President and DNC member. 

“Our job goes beyond endorsing someone. We also need to hold our elected officials accountable. It is important that we make sure their actions are aligned with our values. And if they’re not, we must take a stand and continue to fight for the things that matter most,” said Elise Moore, Corresponding Secretary of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and Co-chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Judicial Interview Committee.

The resolution was supported by community groups like SEIU 2015; NUHW; UFCW 770; Roofers Local 36; UTLA; UNITE HERE Local 11; and many others.

On the one-year “Angelversary” of the killing of Andres Guardado, June 18th, UNITE HERE Local 11 will hold a press conference outside the Hall of Justice and later be joined by the Guardado family continuing the call for justice. The union and its allies also plan to hold a march from the auto shop where Andres was killed to the Compton Sheriff’s station on Saturday June 19, 2021 from 11am-1pm.  

“Serving Our Community” Recognized with Prestigious National Workforce Award

The Hospitality Training Academy will be presented with W.O Lawton Award this June by the National Association of Workforce Boards in Washington, DC

Los Angeles, CA: May 28, 2021—The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) recently announced Serving Our Community Program as the winner of the prestigious W.O. Lawton Award. The award will be presented at NAWB’s upcoming Forum 2021 in Washington, D.C.

UNITE HERE Local 11 and HTA’s “Serving Our Community” program has prepared and delivered over 3.75 million meals. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the program has provided 1,100 jobs to recently laid-off union and non-union workers and served 10,000 homebound seniors, people experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence and
slavery & trafficking, and low-income families.

“Thank you to the National Association of Workforce Boards for this amazing honor. We are so proud to have brought back so many workers to provide meals for those in need and also help reenergize the economy.” said Adine Forman, HTA Executive Director.“The Serving our Community Program shows what we can accomplish together – when labor, employers, and elected officials come together to innovatively and safely provide vital resources to our community,” said Susan Minato Co-President of UNITE HERE Local and Chair of the Board of Trustees for the HTA.

“Over the past year, workforce development boards, leaders and industry partners have gone above and beyond to provide essential services in a time of national crisis,” said Ron Painter, President and CEO of NAWB. “NAWB could not be more honored to recognize each of these award recipients. Workforce Development Boards are a critical piece of our country’s infrastructure, and we are thrilled to take a moment to recognize them at our annual event.” The “Serving Our Community” Program was selected out of a large pool of nominations for W.O. Lawton Award, which recognizes businesses and business organizations that have made the commitment of time, money, and leadership to make their community’s workforce and
economy more vibrant. To learn more about all of the award winners and NAWB’s annual event The Forum, please
visit: https://forum.nawb.org/.

What Labor Shortage? LAX Employees Demand Airport’s Biggest Concessionaire Recall Laid Off Workers

HMS Host again faces employee protest as workers remain on layoff in the wake of subcontracting

L.A.’s airport authority has granted the company millions in rent relief

Los Angeles: HMS Host workers at LAX protested Wednesday to demand that the airport’s largest food and retail concessions employer stop outsourcing food preparation work and allow them to return to their jobs.

LAX airport workers protest claims of labor shortages while workers remain on layoff

UNITE HERE Local 11 alleges that HMS Host outsourced work that is typically done by union members, purchasing products such as salads and wraps from an outside vendor to sell at its LAX sites. The Union asserts this has resulted in lost work opportunities for HMS Host workers.

HMS Host Executive Vice President Derryl Benton recently claimed that HMS Host currently has 4,400 job openings around the country. Meanwhile, most HMS Host workers at LAX remain on layoff and say they don’t know when HMS Host will allow them to return to work.

HMS Host is the largest airport concessionaire in North America. In 2020, the city’s airport authority LAWA authorized waivers that enabled HMS Host to escape paying in excess of $4 million in contractually-obligated rent, according to estimates by UNITE HERE Local 11. In addition, LAWA granted HMS Host valuable two-year extensions on their direct contracts at LAX. Italian billionaires own HMS Host’s parent company Autogrill through a holding corporation, Edizione, which had a net asset value of $14.98 billion as of December 2019.

HMS Host workers at LAX are over 90% people of color (and over 20% Black) and live in the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of its LAX workforce remains laid off.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Opposes Federal Handouts to Hospitality Industry in Proposed “Save Hotel Jobs Act”

UNITE HERE Local 11 Opposes Federal Handouts to Hospitality Industry in Proposed “Save Hotel Jobs Act” 

California’s Largest Hospitality Union says: “Bringing back veteran workers should not come with a $20 billion price tag”

  

Los Angeles, California: UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents over 32,000 hospitality workers across Southern California and Arizona, sent a letter to the American Hotel and Lodging Association and dozens of members of Congress in firm opposition to the “Save Hotel Jobs Act” today.

The policy being considered by Congress would hand over $20 billion in federal aid to encourage hotels to bring back their veteran workers. This aid is in addition to the millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans multiple hotels received, originally intended for small businesses to keep workers on their payroll. Local 11 has estimated the country’s hospitality industry has already received $13.7 billion in public support, while 75% of our members in the hospitality industry remain unemployed.

In California, the hospitality industry and hotel employers lobbied against a right to return bill that would have guaranteed veteran workers their jobs back as the industry reopens. In the face of the industry’s opposition, UNITE HERE Local 11 was successful in getting right-to-return legislation passed in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, and most recently across the state of California, extending these protections to 700,000 hospitality workers.

“Bringing back veteran workers should not come with a $20 billion price tag. This is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, and hotel workers who lost lives and livelihoods because of the pandemic. Any hotel employer using this as an opportunity to make money should be ashamed of themselves” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

Hospitality workers, who tend to be majority women of color, have suffered the brunt of this pandemic, with many losing their lives to COVID-19.  Employers like Terranea Resort and Chateau Marmont fired their veteran workers and cut their healthcare during the pandemic.

“The federal government has given millions in relief to these hotel conglomerates. It is time to put workers first. The Biden administration and Congress have an opportunity to build back better and hold employers like Chateau Marmont and Terranea accountable,” said Susan Minato, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

“We ask Congress to take the responsible path. First by fixing the Paycheck Protection Program so there is genuine transparency and accountability. Second, any federal handouts to the hotel industry should be conditioned and provide enforceable COVID-19 protocols to ensure worker safety and any direct payments should go to struggling workers,” said Ada Briceño, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

“I gave 40 years of my life to the Chateau Marmont. I lost my healthcare after they fired me and now, I drive part-time delivering pizzas. Yet Andre Balazs, the owner of the Chateau Marmont, was approved for a $1.95 million federal loan. Workers like me have yet to see any of that money or to be brought back to work,” said Carlos Barrera, garage attendant at Chateau Marmont.

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WeHo’s Laid-Off Hospitality Workers Urge City Council To Pass Historic Hotel Worker Protection Policy

WeHo’s Laid-Off Hospitality Workers Urge City Council To Pass Historic Hotel Worker Protection Policy

“Recovery Means Everyone”: A Just WeHo Economy Post Pandemic Must Include Hotel Workers

West Hollywood, CA: Dozens of laid off hospitality workers, West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, Councilmember Sepi Shyne, Hollywood National Organization for Women, National Women’s Political Caucus of California held a press conference today to urge WeHo city council to pass a historic hotel worker protection policy.

“I immigrated to this country leaving my kids behind in Guatemala in search of a better life to provide for them and have worked hard to build a life for us. It is workers like me who dedicated their lives to building the hospitality industry in West Hollywood,” said Sandra Pellecer who worked at the Standard as a cook for 16 years.

The policy is aimed at ensuring workers in the hotel industry, many of whom have dedicated decades of service to the industry, have jobs to return to as the economy reopens. The policy will also contain measures to address other problems that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the risk of sexual assault or other threatening conduct for workers who work alone in guest rooms, inadequate compensation for heavy workloads, and the lack of comprehensive, standardized training.

“As a member of the LGBTQ community, I know West Hollywood prides itself in being a city of inclusion and equality. I hope the council leads with these values today and stands with hospitality workers like myself who help this city thrive,” said Jesus Ortiz who worked at the Standard as a cook for 4 years.

Similar worker recall and retention ordinances have been passed in many cities across the region, including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, and Los Angeles County. In 2019, the city of Santa Monica passed a historic Housekeeper Bill of Rights with similar panic button, workload compensation, training, and worker retention measures. Santa Monica also passed a right of recall in the wake of 9/11. Encouraged by the Governor’s signature on SB93, West Hollywood is poised to consider even stronger legislation.

“As a housekeeper having protections from the risk of sexual assault, like panic buttons, would make me feel safer since I often have to work alone in isolated areas of the hotel,” said Norma Hernandez who worked at the Mondrial for 13 years as a housekeeper.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, more than 90% of hotel workers were laid off, most left without healthcare or job security, and many after decades in the industry. Workers in the hotel industry are overwhelmingly immigrants and women of color, some of the hardest hit amid the pandemic.

“Recovery must include everyone. A just economy demands that we do better than simply going back to what existed before COVID-19. The City of West Hollywood has an unmatched record of advancing human rights. I am delighted to work with Councilmember Shyne on this policy, which is one more example of our commitment to dignity and respect for all people,” said Mayor Lindsey Horvath.

The policy would ensure that hotel workers are a part of West Hollywood’s just economic recovery.

“The City of West Hollywood is actively working to close the gap of social, racial and workplace inequality. I am proud to work with Mayor Horvath to bring forward this item which will provide basic workforce protections for hotel workers who are often cleaning more rooms per day than the industry standard, putting their personal safety on the line when they enter rooms without any protective equipment such as panic buttons, allowing workers to return to and retain the jobs they love with dignity and requiring safe reporting and training. The free market has not provided these overdue protections for workers, which is why we must intercede,” said West Hollywood City Councilmember Sepi Shyne.

UNITE HERE Local 11’s Statement on Right to Return to Work Bill Signed by Governor Newsom

UNITE HERE Local 11’s Statement on Right to Return to Work Bill Signed by Governor Newsom

California becomes first state in the U.S to pass historic worker protections

BREAKING NEWS:  We applaud Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of the Hospitality Workers Right to Return bill today which guarantees that hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers will have the legal right to return to work when tourism returns.

COVID-19 has devastated the tourism industry. More than a year after the pandemic began, 80% of hotel workers remain unemployed. Dozens of UNITE HERE Local 11 members have lost their lives to COVID-19.

During the worst health crisis in modern history, many hospitality employers–such as the Terranea Resort and Chateau Marmont–terminated workers who had made their hotels successful, without extending their healthcare or making any binding commitment to recall them when the crisis subsides.  By discarding their veteran employees when they needed them most, these irresponsible employers left workers in a state of profound insecurity, creating a critical need for right-to-return to-work legislation.

Beginning in May 2020, UNITE HERE Local 11 passed the nation’s first hospitality workers’ right to return to work law in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and elsewhere in Southern California. Similar legislation has since been passed throughout the country, including in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Oakland, and Boston.

Today’s law covers the world’s largest tourism industry. More than 700,000 California hotel, event center, airport concession, and building services workers will now have the right to return to their jobs when the pandemic subsides.  This law brings hope and security to these professional service workers and their families.

“I’ve been struggling to make ends meet and was in the hospital for Covid-19 in January. Right now, I’m afraid I won’t be able to pay my medical bills and rent after my young daughter was also in the hospital for kidney failure. I want respect and rights for workers like me. I need to go back to work for my family and this law will help me do that,” said Antonio Rodriguez, who worked as a banquet server at Terranea Resort for 11 years.

We urge other states to follow Governor Newsom’s lead and guarantee the right to return to work to all hospitality workers in our nation.

“We know that the hospitality industry has been decimated by the pandemic, but it’s not the executives who are suffering. Their paychecks continue to come in. It’s working people who are paying the price,” said State Senator Maria Elena Durazo. “Too many times, after times of crises, we see the hotel industry come roaring back while their former workers are left out cold. Thanks to Governor Newsom’s signing of this bill, we are not going to let that happen this time around,”

“Workers need certainty right now as we reopen the state. Knowing they will be offered their jobs back should give hospitality workers a bit of long overdue relief. It’s just the right thing to do,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

“I commend Governor Newsom for signing SB 93 into law and recognizing that California’s economy cannot recover without its workers. We saw firsthand the economic devastation the Great Recession had on the state’s workforce and during the pandemic, thousands across the hospitality and building services industry have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. In the face of an uncertain economic recovery, this legislation is a necessary yet reasonable approach that will ensure security for an already vulnerable workforce by affording long standing, qualified employees the opportunity to return to their jobs as businesses resume operations,” said Assemblyman Ash Kalra.

“I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing such a historic policy. The Los Angeles Labor Movement is proud to have stood in solidarity with the housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers, servers, and airport workers to pass this landmark policy. This is a huge win for workers in California and is an example of what our movement can accomplish when we stick together and fight for common goal,” Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

We are grateful to the leadership and tenacity of our state Democratic legislators, especially Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, and Senator Maria Elena Durazo, who valiantly fought for these workers. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, led by Ron Herrera, walked with us every step of the way, and we thank the MLB Players Association, the NFL Players Association, SAG AFTRA and CLUE and Jesuits West for their early support.

We are most inspired and humbled by the courageous room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, and food service workers who lobbied, picketed, and never doubted for a moment that they deserved to return to their jobs.