Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen talks about the historical West Hollywood Hotel Worker Ordinance
Hotel workers and community allies in West Hollywood took to the street on the eve of the Hotel Worker Ordinance Vote.
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
Los 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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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.
“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.