PRESS INQUIRIES

For Press Inquiries:
Maria Hernandez, Communications
(623) 340-8047 (mobile)
mhernandez {at} unitehere11 {dot} org

For Arizona Press Inquiries:
Rachele Smith, Communications
(623) 670-9889 (mobile)
rsmith {at} unitehere11 {dot} org

Some of the following press releases have been shortened and edited to avoid redundancy.

PRESS RELEASE: California Democrats Endorse Growing Boycott of Chateau Marmont Hotel

Press Release: 05/03/2021

California Democrats Endorse Growing Boycott of Chateau Marmont Hotel

The state party acts following second racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a Black former worker

Los Angeles, CA: The California Democratic Party endorsed the highly publicized boycott of the Chateau Marmont in a resolution passed Sunday at the party’s convention.

“I am so proud of our state’s Democratic leadership,” said Ada Briceño, chair of the Orange County Democratic Party and co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Mistreatment in the workplace directly conflicts with our Party’s values, and we will not stand for it. The California Democratic Party will continue to lead by taking bold stances on issues that directly impact working families.”

Earlier last week, a second former worker filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Chateau Marmont alleging a racially hostile work environment. April Blackwell, a Black woman, alleged she experienced unsafe working conditions while on overnight shifts at the Chateau Marmont. This January, former events server Thomasina Gross filed a lawsuit against the hotel alleging she also experienced race discrimination and sexual harassment while working at the hotel.

The California Democratic Party has a history of supporting workers who drive the state’s massive and lucrative tourism industry. At its 2019 convention, the party endorsed the boycott of the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, which is ongoing. Two weeks ago, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the first statewide law in the nation granting a right to return to work for people laid off from jobs in hospitality, one of the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19 lockdowns.

“Hospitality workers like those fired from Chateau Marmont are the backbone of our state’s economy. Their willingness to come forward and speak out takes real courage and we are proud to stand in solidarity with them,” said Rusty Hicks, Chair of the California Democratic Party.

“For too long, corporations have gotten rich at the expense of Black and Brown workers. Many of them are immigrant women of color like Martha Moran who for 33 years cleaned the rooms of the rich and famous that stayed at LA’s Chateau Marmont. It’s time that we hold greedy employers like Chateau Marmont accountable ” said Betty Yee, Vice-Chair of the California Democratic Party.

“When the Chateau Marmont fired me, I turned around and went to Arizona to knock on doors for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris because I saw how much this country needed a change. Political power can and should build up working people, and the California Democratic Party proved that again today,” said Jordan Mueck, who worked at Chateau Marmont as an events server for over 2 years.

It has been over a year since the Chateau Marmont fired more than 200 of its workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving workers who had dedicated decades of their lives to the hotel without job security or company-provided healthcare. Since then, many of the hotel’s workers have spoken out about their experiences working at the hotel, prompting concern from community leaders and the call for a boycott until the hotel demonstrates 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.

Former Worker Files Race Discrimination and Workplace Safety Lawsuit Against Chateau Marmont 

PRESS CONTACT:  For lawsuit questions – Lauren Teukolsky | Lauren@teuklaw.com| 323-573-2378

UNITE HERE Local 11 – Maria Hernandez | mhernandez@unitehere11.org | 623-340-8047

Former Worker Files Race Discrimination and Workplace Safety Lawsuit Against Chateau Marmont

The lawsuit, the second this year against the famed hotel, comes days after Aaron Sorkin pulled filming of “Being the Ricardos” from the property, honoring a growing boycott

Los Angeles, CA:  Following a weekend of protests drawing attention to the growing boycott at the Oscars-season hot spot Chateau Marmont, another Black worker has filed a lawsuit against the Chateau Marmont alleging race discrimination.

“This is the second race discrimination lawsuit filed against the Chateau Marmont by a Black woman in the span of four months.  This suggests that these were not isolated incidents, but instead part of a larger pattern or practice of discrimination at the Chateau,”stated Lauren Teukolsky, an attorney who represents Ms. Blackwell, as well as another worker who has filed suit against the hotel, Thomasina Gross. 

April Blackwell, a Black woman, alleges in her lawsuit that she experienced a racially hostile work environment and unsafe working conditions at the Chateau.  Her lawsuit alleges that, as the only overnight front desk agent working in the Chateau’s drug and alcohol-fueled “anything goes” environment, she was subjected to racist and sexist harassment by guests while performing her job.  Ms. Blackwell alleges that when she reported abusive and threatening guest conduct to managers, they took little corrective action. In December 2019, the hotel disciplined and terminated her after a particularly egregious episode of guest harassment.

“I know that people who are not Black have not had to go through the things we have had to go through as Black people and Black workers. That is why I am here today: because I want accountability. I want Chateau to understand that they did things they should not have done. I want Chateau to understand that it’s not acceptable to let their workers be harassed and threatened by guests,” said plaintiff April Blackwell, who worked at Chateau Marmont as an overnight front desk agent.

In January, former events server Thomasina Gross filed a lawsuit against the hotel alleging that she also experienced race discrimination and sexual harassment while working at the hotel.

The latest lawsuit comes several days after Oscar-nominated director Aaron Sorkin honored workers’ call for a boycott of the Chateau Marmont by pulling the production of Being the Ricardos from the hotel.

A growing number of celebrities have endorsed the boycott, including Jane Fonda, Alfonso Cuarón, Martin Sheen, Tom Morello, Edie Falco, Lena Headey, Constance Zimmer, Nikki Bilderback, Thomas Sadoski, Joshua Oppenhimer, Eliza Dushku, Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Silverman, Daveed Diggs, and Alison Pill. Organizations such as SAG-AFTRA have also voiced their support for the workers.

“Black leaders and organizers have forced all of us to confront and fight to end our society’s systemic racism. The hotel industry profits from racist employment practices. Hotels employ few Black workers.  And when they do, Black workers often work in out of sight positions such as PBX operators or overnight auditors who do their work in a closet behind the front desk,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

Chateau Marmont workers have asked the public to boycott the hotel until it demonstrates a commitment to respecting their years of service by rehiring them in accordance with their legal rights and to ensuring that all workers—regardless of their race, sex, or background—feel treated with dignity and respect.

“What April Blackwell has described having to endure working overnight at this hotel shocks the conscience.  It has no place in our community.  It has no place in 2021.  It is about time we put an end, once and for all, to this kind of outrageous treatment of workers.” said Reverend Kelvin Sauls, Clergy for Black Lives.

It has been over a year since the Chateau Marmont fired more than 200 of its workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving workers who had dedicated decades of their lives to the hotel without job security or company-provided healthcare. Since then, many of the hotel’s workers have spoken out about their experiences working at the hotel, prompting concern from community leaders and the call for a boycott.

April Blackwell is represented in her lawsuit by Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law, APC, Jeremy Blasi, and Zoe Tucker.

Fired Chateau Marmont Workers Call Attention to Hotel Boycott with Red Carpet Protest Outside the Chateau Marmont

As Hollywood Prepares for Oscar Weekend, Fired Chateau Marmont Workers Call Attention to Hotel Boycott with Red Carpet Protest Outside the Awards Show After-Party Hotspo

Protest Comes A Day After Academy Award Nominated Film Director Aaron Sorkin Pulls Film Project from Chateau In Solidarity with Workers 

Los Angeles, CA: As Oscar weekend begins, over a hundred protestors–including laid off Chateau Marmont workers– gathered outside the awards show after-party hotspot to call attention to the snowballing boycott at the hotel. 

The action came a day after Oscar-Nominated Director Aaron Sorkin pulled filming of the major production Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, from the hotel due to the ongoing labor dispute, honoring the boycott at the Chateau Marmont.  

The protest had an awards show theme to celebrate the decades of service that fired Chateau Marmont workers gave to “Hollywood’s Playground” and that the workers have events planned throughout Oscar weekend calling attention to the boycott at the hotel.

“We applaud Aaron Sorkin, Martin Sheen, Amanda Seyfried and dozens of other celebrities who support the boycott of the Chateau Marmont.  It is official:  Hollywood has left the Chateau Marmont.  They are only coming back when the bartenders,servers, and room attendants return to their jobs and have a workplace free of harassment and abuse.” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.” 

Through the highly publicized boycott of the Chateau Marmont, workers are calling 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. 

“I never really saw myself as a leader but when we were fired I realized I needed to fight back for myself, my coworkers and my family,” said Walter Almendarez, who worked as a bellman at the Chateau Marmont for 26 years.

 A growing number of celebrities have endorsed the workers’ call for a boycott, including Jane Fonda, Alfonso Cuarón, Martin Sheen, Tom Morello,  Edie Falco, Lena Headey, Constance Zimmer, Nikki Bilderback, Thomas Sadoski, Joshua Oppenhimer, Eliza Dushku, Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Silverman, Daveed Diggs and Alison Pill. Organizations like SAG-AFTRA have also voiced their support for the fired workers.

It has been over a year since the Chateau Marmont fired more than 200 of its workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving workers who had dedicated decades of their lives to the hoteL without job security or company-provided healthcare. Since then, many of the hotel’s workers have spoken out about their experiences working at the hotel, prompting concern from community leaders and the call for a boycott. 

According to public records, the Chateau Marmont was approved for a $1.95 million PPP loan on February 5, 2021, and as of April 13 the loan had been disbursed but not paid in full or charged off, according to the SBA. UNITE HERE Local 11 has asked the U.S Small Business Administration to conduct an inquiry to ensure the hotel complies with Paycheck Protection Loan requirements. 

 UNITE HERE Local 11 Applauds Oscar-Nominated Director Aaron Sorkin, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, and SAG-AFTRA, For Pulling Major Film Project from the Chateau Marmont

Los Angeles: Aaron Sorkin, his film crew, actors including Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, and SAG-AFTRA, honored the Chateau Marmont boycott and pulled the filming of the major production Being the Ricardos from the hotel due to the ongoing labor dispute.

“We commend Aaron Sorkin for putting into practice the ideals of free speech and social justice that he depicted so brilliantly in his Oscar-nominated film The Trial of the Chicago 7. This is the kind of leadership we need in Hollywood, and we urge everyone else in the industry to follow his lead and honor the boycott of the Chateau Marmont.  We also thank members of SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters, Directors Guild, and IATSE for their solidarity,” said UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen.

Through the highly publicized boycott of the Chateau Marmont, workers are calling 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.

“For years I washed the dishes behind the scenes for Hollywood’s A-listers. Today, knowing that we got the support from such respected actors in Hollywood means the world to me,” said Oscar Chacon, 17-year dishwasher at the Chateau Marmont whose eyes lit up upon hearing the news.

A growing number of celebrities have endorsed the workers’ call for a boycott, including Jane Fonda, Alfonso Cuarón, Martin Sheen, Tom Morello,  Edie Falco, Lena Headey, Constance Zimmer, Nikki Bilderback, Thomas Sadoski, Joshua Oppenhimer, Eliza Dushku and Alison Pill. Organizations like SAG-AFTRA have also voiced their support for the fired workers.

Picket lines outside the Chateau Marmont are expected Friday outside the after-party hotspot as Hollywood prepares for Oscar weekend.

To learn more of the ongoing boycott and support go to  www.BoycottChateauMarmont.org

 

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.

Laid Off Hotel Workers Protest Company’s $4.4 Million in Paycheck Protection Program Loans

Laid Off Hotel Workers Protest Company’s $4.4 Million in Paycheck Protection Program Loans, UNITE HERE Local 11 Files Complaint asking SBA to Investigate 

Four Points by Sheraton at LAX was approved for PPP Loan intended to retain workers and permanently closed the following week

Los Angeles, CA: On Wednesday, dozens of laid-off hospitality workers filed a complaint and protested outside the Four Points by Sheraton LAX. Workers demand the U.S Small Business Administration (“SBA”) conduct a full investigation of the $4.4 million in Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans approved for the hotel as owner Rui Gao permanently closed the hotel on February 5, only one week after being approved for its second loan.

“My coworkers and I were surprised to learn that our owner received millions in PPP loans. We did not see how any of that money got used to help us. Where is the money?” said Graciela Gomez, who worked cleaning rooms as a housekeeper at the Four Points by Sheraton LAX for 20 years.

Congress intended for PPP loans be used by small businesses to keep workers on payroll, not to subsidize large hospitality conglomerates. The hotel originally received $2.4 million in April 2020, and the SBA may have already “forgiven” this loan, converting it into a taxpayer grant.

The Paycheck Protection Program was intended to help small businesses cover payroll costs, but Local 11’s analysis of Small Business Administration data released on December 1, 2020 found that 4,064 California hotel borrowers collected $950 million in PPP loans. However, large hotel chains won an exemption from SBA rules that allowed them to apply for loans at multiple properties. Rui Gao Inc. may be one of these large firms that benefited from this loophole while small businesses were not able to access the program.

“Rui Gao knew what he was doing when he applied for the second round of PPP loans. It is disgusting to see how owners like him are taking money meant for struggling small businesses, while workers who dedicated their lives to them are fighting to survive,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President UNITE HERE Local 11.

“We hope that the SBA in partnership with the Department of Justice will take all appropriate measures to hold Rui Gao and other borrowers accountable for their use of these taxpayer funds,” continued Petersen.

The SBA has not presented any audit plan for Rui Gao or other large hospitality firms that were approved for millions in PPP loans, but instead has proceeded with processing loan forgiveness applications; as of April 1, SBA had forgiven and paid back over $209 billion—while denying forgiveness for only $700 million.  SBA disclosures reviewed by Local 11 do not indicate whether Rui Gao’s loans were forgiven.

Prominent Film Director Alfonso Cuarón Joins Boycott of Chateau Marmont

Alfonso Cuarón Joins Boycott of Chateau Marmont

The multi-Academy-Award-winner takes stand following lawsuit by
former worker alleging sexual harassment and race discrimination  

Los Angeles, CA: Alfonso Cuarón, multi-Academy Award-winner and Mexican film icon, pledged to boycott the Chateau Marmont until its workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. His pledge comes on the 1-year anniversary of mass firings and follows a lawsuit by a former worker alleging sexual harassment and race discrimination at the Chateau Marmont.

Alfonso Cuarón joins legend Jane Fonda in calling for a boycott of the Chateau Marmont until hotel management demonstrates a commitment to respect its workers’ years of service by rehiring them in accordance with their legal rights and to ensure that all workers—regardless of their race, sex, or background—feel treated with dignity and respect. Hundreds more have called for fair treatment of Chateau Marmont workers, including SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and the Hollywood chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Alfonso Cuarón has made breakthrough films uplifting the stories of the hardest working people in society, including his 2019 award-winning film Roma.  Cuaron is one of a handful of filmmakers to win an Oscar for Best Director multiple times (for Roma and Gravity) and the first Mexico-born filmmaker to win the award.

“To hear that Alfonso Cuarón, who I admire and had greeted for so many years, is fighting alongside me and my coworkers for the justice we deserve means the world to me,” said Carlos Barrera, 40-year garage attendant at the Chateau Marmont.

 Last month, workers and allies gathered outside the Chateau Marmont calling for the boycott of the hotel. Many of the hotel’s workers have spoken out about their experiences working at “Hollywood’s Playground,” prompting concern from community leaders. The Chateau Marmont fired virtually its entire workforce in March 2020, leaving workers who had dedicated decades of their lives to the hotel without job security or affordable healthcare during the pandemic. Earlier this year, former events server Thomasina Gross filed a lawsuit against the Chateau Marmont alleging that she experienced race discrimination and sexual harassment while working there.