In Act of Nonviolent Protest Nearly 200 Hotel Workers Risk Arrest on Century Boulevard Following 96% Strike Authorization Vote

Los Angeles, CA:  Nearly 200 workers and community allies engaged in an act of mass nonviolent civil disobedience today, following an overwhelming strike authorization vote June on 8. Hundreds more room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, and community allies took to the streets to call for the wages required to afford housing in Los Angeles.

In a UNITE HERE Local 11 survey, 53% of workers said that they either have moved in the past 5 years or will move in the near future because of soaring housing costs. Hotel workers report commuting hours from areas like Apple Valley, Palmdale, California City and Victorville.

“I risked arrest for the future of my kids, my coworkers and myself. The companies have taken advantage of the pandemic to get richer, while we struggle to stay housed. I am fighting for that change, and ready to strike!” said Martha Esquivel, Holiday Inn LAX, laundry attendant.

The union is seeking to create a hospitality workforce housing fund, in addition to better wages, healthcare benefits, pension and safer workloads. Contracts expire June 30, and employers like Hyatt, IHG, Hilton and Marriott have failed to agree to anything close to the wages workers say they need to live with dignity in the cities where they work. The union could call for a strike at dozens of hotels with more than 15,000 workers as early as July 4th weekend.  This would be the largest hotel worker strike in modern US industry.

During the pandemic, hotels received $15 billion in federal bailouts and cut jobs and guest services such as daily room cleaning. In 2023, hotel profits in Los Angeles and Orange County exceeded pre-pandemic levels, yet hospitality workers continue to struggle to afford a place to live in the cities where they work.

Southern California will be the first city in modern history to host back-to-back the FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the Olympics in 2028.  In recent decades, these mega sports events have left local governments indebted for years and have permanently displaced millions of poor residents.  UNITE HERE Local 11 is calling on the industry and political leadership to use the events to transform tourism jobs into family sustaining jobs and solve the housing crisis.

“In a show of strength and solidarity hundreds of workers were arrested for the right to live near where they work. Corporations have offered pennies, so today we risked arrest, and we are ready to go on strike to get the wage they deserve,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president UNITE HERE Local 11.

The last time hundreds of hotel workers risked arrest en masse on Century Blvd to demand better was in 2006.