Tuesday Marks Day 2 of Sky Harbor HMS Host Workers’ Indefinite Strike

Days before Thanksgiving holiday, airport concessions workers remain firm: no agreement, no work 

Phoenix – After a successful walkout on Monday, HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor Airport will remain on an indefinite strike Tuesday. The strike continues to impact travelers arriving and departing in both Terminals 3 and 4.

HMS Host workers make up the largest group of food concessions workers at the Phoenix airport. HMS Host is the single largest concessionaire at Sky Harbor Airport, employing hundreds of workers in over two dozen restaurant and coffee shop outlets.

Host operates all Starbucks coffee shops at the airport and popular restaurants such as Barrio Cafe, Chelsea’s Kitchen, and SanTan Brewery.

Workers are demanding a new, comprehensive contract with fair raises, affordable health insurance, a company-paid retirement contribution, protections for workers’ tips, and strong contract language for equal opportunity and protection from discrimination. Workers with UNITE HERE Local 11 have been in negotiations with HMS Host since 2017. Delays in settling a contract mean delays in wage increases and official COVID safety protocols during a global pandemic.

BREAKING: Sky Harbor HMS Host Workers Begin Indefinite Strike Monday 

Phoenix airport concessions workers announce walkout ahead of the busiest travel week of the year 

Phoenix – HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor Airport will strike early Monday morning. The strike will impact travelers arriving and departing in both Terminals 3 and 4.

HMS Host workers make up the largest group of food concessions workers at the Phoenix airport. HMS Host is the single largest concessionaire at Sky Harbor Airport, employing hundreds of workers in over two dozen restaurant and coffee shop outlets. 

Host operates all Starbucks coffee shops at the airport and popular restaurants such as Barrio Cafe, Chelsea’s Kitchen, and SanTan Brewery. 

Workers are demanding a new, comprehensive contract with fair raises, affordable health insurance, a company-paid retirement contribution, protections for workers’ tips, and strong contract language for equal opportunity and protection from discrimination. Workers with UNITE HERE Local 11 have been in negotiations with HMS Host since 2017. Delays in settling a contract mean delays in wage increases and official COVID safety protocols during a global pandemic. 

After almost four years of negotiations and no contract, workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize the strike Thursday. 

Workers are prepared to strike indefinitely until HMS Host agrees to settle a contract that meets their demands. 

 

STRIKE ALERT: Ahead of Busy Travel Season, Sky Harbor HMS Host Workers Vote 97% to Authorize Strike

BREAKING NEWS: 11/19/2021

Phoenix airport concessions workers may announce an indefinite walkout any day following overwhelming vote in favor of strike

Phoenix: HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor Airport voted 97% Thursday in favor of authorizing a strike. The authorization comes just one week before the Thanksgiving holiday, after almost four years of negotiations and no contract. Workers have not yet announced a date for the strike to begin.

HMS Host is the single largest concessionaire at Sky Harbor Airport employing hundreds of workers in over two dozen restaurant and coffee shop outlets. A strike would impact travelers arriving and departing in both Terminal 3 and 4.

“We are ready to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to win what we deserve: fair raises, health insurance that we can actually afford, and a pension,” said barista Victoria Stahl. “There is no reason that HMS Host cannot do these things. It’s disrespectful of the hard work that my coworkers and I have put in through the pandemic. They’ve rejected our proposals at the bargaining table and if this is what we need to do for them to listen, we’re ready.”

Workers are demanding a new, comprehensive contract with fair raises, affordable health insurance, a company-paid retirement contribution, protections for workers’ tips, and strong contract language for equal opportunity and protection from discrimination. Workers with UNITE HERE Local 11 have been in negotiations with HMS Host since 2017. Delays in settling a contract mean delays in wage increases and official COVID safety protocols during a global pandemic.

“I voted yes to authorize a strike because I have worked for HMS Host for 27 years and I still don’t have a pension,” said cook Santos Mojica. “I want to know that I will be able to afford to retire in dignity when I can no longer work.”

“I voted yes to authorize a strike because I spend over $350 a month for health insurance and my medication. It isn’t fair that I have to go to Mexico for medical treatment that the company insurance plan won’t cover. Host still hasn’t agreed in bargaining to make health insurance affordable for us and our families. I don’t want to see my raises spent to keep up with the rising cost of my insurance. That isn’t right,” said Lucia Salinas, a cook for 17 years with HMS Host.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Response to Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games Agreement

BREAKING NEWS: 11/17/2021

UNITE HERE Local 11 Response to Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games Agreement

Los Angeles: For almost six months, the City of Los Angeles has refused to disclose a single clause of the 2028 Games Agreement. Now that the Agreement has been released following a lawsuit from advocates, the absence of public input is all too obvious. The Olympics tourism infrastructure boom can transform the lives of L.A.’s working families, but the Games Agreement, as drafted, fails to take into account some of the most urgent issues our City is facing today:

1.) The Agreement’s proposed “Local Hire Program” and workforce development goals would do very little to ensure the quality of the jobs that will be required to carry out the Games. The proposals are devoid of any concrete commitments to workplace standards; its vague gestures to “diversity” and “opportunity” fall far short of a commitment to good, family-sustaining jobs.

2.) The Games Agreement ignores the underrepresentation and occupational segregation of Black workers within the accommodation and food service jobs that the Games will create. Although the document vaguely gestures to “diversity,” there are no concrete commitments to hire and retain Black workers within the Games.

3.) Despite the fact that Los Angeles is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis, the Games Agreement does not mention the word “housing.” It includes no protections against the displacement and increasing unaffordability that have been linked to recent Olympic Games.

It is essential for any governing document of this massive event to prioritize the well-being of low-income Angelenos–the workers who will be delivering the services needed for the Games and who could be forced further out of affordable housing by the development brought on by the Games. Without directly confronting these pressing realities, any Games Agreement the City enters into is a betrayal of the City’s hardest-working and poorest residents.

The Los Angeles City Council must delay the vote on the Olympic Games Agreement until the public has had ample opportunity to weigh in on an agreement that has thus far been shrouded in secrecy. Planning for an event of this scale requires transparency and meaningful input from community groups and working people. If City Council refuses to put affirmative protections in place, Los Angeles risks the same lasting harms that other Olympic host cities have suffered.

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UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union representing over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, stadiums, sport arenas, convention centers, and airports.

 

Hospitality Training Academy Awarded $3 Million Federal Grant to Help Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Hospitality Training Academy Awarded $3 Million Federal Grant to Help Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Los Angeles (November 12, 2021): The Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) and its allies revealed the details of the $3 million Federal Grant to help workers impacted by COVID-19. The CAREER National Dislocated Worker Grant will provide underserved workers with high-road employment and career pathways by participation in registered union apprenticeships and training programs in the hospitality, construction, and retail food industries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left far too many people out of work, struggling through no fault of their own to support themselves and their families – so beyond job training, this grant is an investment in creating more stable, supportive workplaces and families, in lifting families out of poverty, and in providing historically marginalized and underserved communities with tangible opportunities. It’s about Building Back Better – and this is just the beginning,” said Congressman Schiff, U.S. House of Representatives, 28th Congressional District. “I am excited to hear the Hospitality Training Academy’s stories of success and of the people they help succeed.”

The occasion was celebrated at HTA’s Culinary Training Kitchen in Los Angeles with elected officials U.S Congressmember Schiff, State Senator Durazo, County officials, and Representatives from HTA, UNITE HERE Local 11, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, United Food and Commercial Workers, LA/OC Building & Construction Trades Council, and Apprenticeship Readiness Fund.

“I am excited about the $3 million grant to the Hospitality Training Academy. A workforce development grant to train men and women in the hospitality industry is the kind of initiative we need more of across California and throughout the country. We know that the hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit during the pandemic and that low-paid workers are the most severely impacted. This federal grant will ensure that HTA has the resources it needs to continue to create good jobs with upward mobility in the hospitality, food service, and tourism industries and help get workers back on their feet! The grant will also help businesses recruit and train highly qualified individuals, which is highly needed,” said California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo 24th District.

The event highlighted how programs like CAREER Grant are the key to ensuring that those hardest hit by the pandemic can recover through training and placement in good union jobs. In addition to claiming the lives of our fellow Angelenos, the COVID-19 crisis has pushed so many of them to the brink of poverty. Projects like the CAREER Grant are essential to our economic recovery and to lifting so many of our essential workers out of poverty and into stable work environments.

“We are proud of the work we have done with our employer and government partners at the city, county, state and federal level to put people back to work in good union jobs and safe environments” said Susan Minato Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11 and Chair of Board of Trustees for Hospitality Training Academy.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, HTA and UNITE HERE Local 11 have served more than 4.5 million meals to Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable community members through the “Serving Our Community” program. The meals were cooked by partner employers like JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton LA LIVE, Pomona College, and The Beverly Hilton – among others – and then delivered by taxi cabs and airport shuttles. Created to address the urgent needs of low-income Angelenos, the program employed 1,364 previously laid-off and experienced professionals ensuring continuity of service at keystone employers that are a fiscal engine in our region; and providing meals to at-risk populations.

“The Hospitality Training Academy and UNITE HERE Local 11 changed my life and provided me with skills needed to walk into a job and feel prepared. I am proud to have taken part in the Serving Our Community Program providing meals to those who needed it most. Thanks to my union, I was able to maintain my healthcare for my kids while working at the Sheraton Grand serving meals as part of this program.” said Fretecia Johnson member of UNITE HERE Local 11 and Hospitality Training Academy alumni.

B-Roll link to event footage and cooking and preparing meals here. 

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About: 

CAREER Grant (Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant) comes through the U.S. Department of Labor at a critical time. This multi-industry project will provide job training to two-hundred unemployed workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare them for placement in high-wage, stable union jobs with benefits.

The Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) provides a variety of workforce development, apprenticeship, ESL, and training programs to train low-income, marginalized individuals for jobs in the hospitality and foodservice industry.

UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union representing over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Leads Fight As West Hollywood City Council Approves Highest Minimum Wage in the Country

BREAKING NEWS: 11/04/2021

West Hollywood: Just past midnight, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to establish a citywide minimum wage of $17.64, including 96 hours of paid sick leave and other benefits. While this measure aligns West Hollywood hotel workers with those in Santa Monica and Los Angeles who have earned $17.64 since July of this year, the wage increase for workers in all other industries is unprecedented.

“Our union is proud to have led the fight to pass a living wage in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and now West Hollywood. Workers across all industries, especially in hotels who have been hardest hit by the pandemic deserve a living wage. Tonight’s council vote is proof of the bold leadership and action needed to ensure workers recover from the effects of this pandemic,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

This victory is a culmination of an effort that UNITE HERE Local 11, Councilmember Horvath and then Councilmember Heilman started back in 2016 to raise the citywide minimum wage to $15, which failed on a 2-3 vote.

“Having a living wage will not only help me and my co-workers, but every single worker in the city of West Hollywood. I know that with the current wages, we cannot live in the city we’ve helped build,” said Norma Hernandez, a housekeeper at the Mondrian Hotel. “Thank you for passing this living wage and ensuring that workers like me can be a part of this city’s recovery.”

This is the second time since July, the West Hollywood City Council has voted to stand with workers hit hardest by the pandemic. Following efforts by UNITE HERE Local 11 and after hearing from hotel workers across the city, the council approved one of the most progressive hotel worker protection laws in the country ensuring fair compensation for heavy workloads, right of recall, training, and panic buttons for all hotel workers

UNITE HERE Local 11 Members Launch Campaign for More Fair 2028 Olympic Games 

Click here to read the report

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.

Hospitality workers hold signs reading "Good jobs now!!" and "Good housing now!!" outside Los Angeles City Hall

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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Note to editors: high-resolution images and b-roll available

LAX Workers Protest Airport Expansion, Urge Board to Reject Environmental Report

Those who live near and work at the airport say development must better address job quality, healthcare, pollution, and displacement

LAX workers protest airport expansion outside LAWA board Oct 7, 2021

LOS ANGELES–Dozens of LAX airport workers from in-terminal concessions and retail, guest services, and airline catering demonstrated against airport expansion Thursday as the Board of Airport Commissioners voted to certify an environmental report that moves the development process forward.

Los Angeles World Airports and the Los Angeles City Council are seeking to rapidly expand LAX amid projected ongoing growth in air traffic and infrastructure needed to host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But thousands of workers throughout the airport—members of UNITE HERE Local 11 working in food service and retail positions and of SEIU-USWW working in janitorial and passenger services—point to issues that are still not addressed.

LAX workers protest airport expansion outside LAWA board Oct 7, 2021

“Even though I work at LAX, I will fight this airport expansion if it’s just going to get us more of the same,” said Rosio Narez, a member of UNITE HERE Local 11 who lives in Inglewood. “Almost everyone in my family has asthma, and I was hospitalized for my asthma as a kid. Increased air traffic will increase air pollution and make families like mine more vulnerable to respiratory diseases. My entire family got COVID, and the communities around the airport have been some of the hardest-hit. We can’t ignore these issues.”

“I oppose this expansion because the airport has not done enough to ensure that we— the people who work at LAX—can get by,” said Laura Banuett, who has worked as a fast food attendant at the airport since 2016. “Rent is so expensive. I’ve had to move further and further away and now live in Compton, raising my daughter on my own while living in a converted garage with no bathroom and no kitchen. I spend almost three hours on public transportation every day to get to and from work. It can’t keep going on like this.”

“Southern California hospitality and service workers are moving from a devastating fight to stay healthy and housed during the pandemic to preparing for the world’s largest tourism events,” said Robin Rodriguez, organizing director at UNITE HERE Local 11. “City leaders face a series of votes that will affect the everyday lives of these families for decades. We want their decisions—about job quality, access to affordable healthcare, pollution, and noise—to demonstrate the value of our work as ‘essential’ in a time of economic growth as well as in a time of crisis.”

LAX workers protest airport expansion outside LAWA board Oct 7, 2021
The LAX Airfield and Terminal Modernization is a massive project to construct Concourse 0 and Terminal 9, add more than two dozen gates, and reconfigure runways and taxiways, among other changes.

Data from LAWA demonstrates that 78% of domestic passenger traffic recovered in July 2021 compared to July 2019—the strongest performance since the pandemic began.

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UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union representing over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers and airports.

LA City Councilmembers Unveil Plan to Protect Housing by Enforcing Home-Sharing Ordinance

Six councilmembers commit to vote NO on vacation rental loophole

 

Los Angeles, CA:  In a show of unity and commitment, five Los Angeles city councilmembers Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz, Nithya Raman, and Monica Rodriguez held a press conference to unveil steps to protect housing for thousands of Angelenos by stronger enforcement of the city’s Home-sharing ordinance.

In an effort to further enforce the city’s strong home-sharing ordinance, Councilmembers Blumenfield,  Koretz, and Raman, all filed separate motions with City Planning and Land Use Management recently.

“The City’s home sharing program has pulled thousands of much-needed housing units off the market, adding to our already disastrous homeless problem and has been beset by non-compliance, criminal activity and the destruction of once quiet single-family neighborhoods” said Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz of the Fifth District.  “If we’re going to take home sharing and its many challenges seriously, we need to provide the Planning Department with the resources necessary to effectively enforce the ordinance, and this needs to be done before we start digging a deeper hole with a vacation rentals program. We currently require primary residency for a reason. What possible excuse is there for this change?”

Elected officials pledged to vote “NO” on a Vacation Rental Loophole currently being considered, warning that the passage of it would take 14,000 homes off the market and convert them into short-term rental units and profoundly complicate the enforcement of short-term rental regulations in place. It would also create dire consequences for LA’s housing market with poor communities of color being the most affected. The loophole is expected to come to a vote in the coming weeks.

“If the City is struggling to enforce the home-sharing ordinance we already have on the books, what makes us think we’re ready to put in place a new vacation rental ordinance that, even when properly enforced, would allow almost 15,000 additional units to be taken off the rental market and turned into Airbnbs,” said Councilmember Raman. “I pledge to vote NO on the Vacation Rental Loophole currently being considered.”

“The adopted short term rental ordinance was explicitly written to limit participation to primary residences in order to protect our critical housing stock. We cannot reopen that loophole in the midst of a housing crisis. Housing needs to be protected for those who live and work in Los Angeles,” said Councilwoman Rodriguez

The City estimated from 2017 that between 6,000 and 10,000 housing units had been removed from the traditional rental market and converted by their owners to short-term rentals.

“We need to protect our housing stock and ensure that we’re maximizing the amount of units available for Angelenos; it’s imperative that we don’t allow ‘vacation rentals’ to become a loophole that decimates the protections in the short term rental legalization policy we adopted a few short years ago.” said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “Right now, there are thousands of illegal short-term rentals available on various platforms throughout the city. We must strengthen enforcement and reject adding loopholes that will lead to more expensive housing.”

Councilmember Bonin was one of the main sponsors of the original home-sharing ordinance passed in 2018 to address an extreme shortage of affordable housing and the negative effects of short-term rentals on long-term housing markets. The Ordinance strictly limits home sharing to primary residences and requires “hosts” of short-term rentals to register for a permit. It also prohibits “host platforms” from processing bookings for listings without a valid City Home-Sharing registration number.

“We need to put a stake in the heart of this harmful vacation rental proposal, which would take thousands of units off the rental market in the middle of a housing and homelessness crisis,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “The proposed vacation rental ordinance would shred any hope of enforcing existing short-term rental rules and would do real harm.”

The event came as housing advocates, working Angelinos and UNITE HERE Local 11 increased their calls for stricter enforcement of the HSO and demand that council reject the proposed VRO.

“When COVID hit I lost my job and my way of life. As a single mother I could not afford to pay the rent of a one-bedroom apartment and was forced to move farther and farther away from my job. I currently live in a small garage where I am barely getting by and live-in fear of becoming homeless every day,” said Clara Meza, member of UNITE HERE Local 11 who has worked as a food prep cook at Sky Chef’s for 36 years.

Although unable to attend in person, Councilmember De Leon said in a statement, “The fact that an eviction moratorium is the only thing preventing many Angelenos from living on the street is a clarion call for all of us to focus on increasing the number of permanently available units at any given time. In a moment like this, anything that detracts from that, like the vacation rental ordinance, should be off the table,” said Councilmember De Leon.

U.S Senator Alex Padilla Announces Support for Workers Boycotting Chateau Marmont

U.S Senator Alex Padilla Announces Support for Workers Boycotting Chateau Marmont

Hollywood Hotel Faces Lawsuits Alleging Sexual Harassment and Race Discrimination by Former Employees

Los Angeles, CA: U.S Senator Alex Padilla (CA) has become the first United States Senator to announce his support for the workers behind the growing boycott of the famed Chateau Marmont.

“As the son of a cook and UNITE HERE Local 11 member, I witnessed firsthand how hard my parents had to work to get ahead. Hospitality workers like those at the Chateau Marmont are the backbone of our state’s economy. I stand alongside the workers as they fight for the dignity and respect they deserve,” said U.S Senator Alex Padilla.

The boycott was launched by workers, UNITE HERE Local 11 and community allies. The boycott calls on the hotel to demonstrate a commitment to respecting workers’ years of service by rehiring them in accordance with their legal rights and ensuring that all workers—regardless of their race, sex, or background—feel treated with dignity and respect. In May, the California Democratic Party voted to boycott the Chateau Marmont at their annual convention.

After the Chateau Marmont fired over 200 workers in March 2020 because of the pandemic, multiple workers came forward to share experiences of mistreatment, abuse, and a racially stratified workplace.

“As a Latino cook in the back of the house I felt like it was nearly impossible for me or my coworkers to aspire to higher-paid positions. The better paid positions usually went to people that did not look like me.” said Pedro Diaz, cook for 16 years at the Chateau Marmont. “I felt invisible.”

Former workers Thomasina Gross and April Blackwell, both African American women, have spoken out and filed discrimination lawsuits against the Chateau Marmont.  The company has since forced their cases into a secretive private arbitration system.  They have called on the company to allow their cases to proceed in the public court system and more broadly called for a more fair and equitable workplace.

“I want hotel management to understand that it’s not acceptable to let their workers be harassed and threatened by guests,” said April Blackwell, former night auditor.

The boycott has also garnered support from those in Hollywood like Jane Fonda, Aaron Sorkin, and Spike Lee. In late August, Paramount Plus pulled filming of its miniseries  The Offer to stand with workers and most recently multiple Emmy-nominees Issa Rae, Robin Thede, and Samira Wiley also pledged to boycott.