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.

BREAKING: HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor Announce Their Return to Work After 10-day Strike

Airport food workers will return to their jobs—and the negotiating table

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12/1/2021 || PRESS CONTACT: Rachele Smith | (623) 670-9889 | rsmith@unitehere11.org

PHOENIX, AZ –  On day ten of an indefinite strike, HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor airport announced their intention to return to work tomorrow, December 2, and to return to the negotiating table. 

Workers initiated their strike to highlight their demand for 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. 

“Our intention with our strike was to bring more attention to the company’s stinginess after four years of negotiations, and to do it at a time when the company would be forced to recognize the value of our labor most—Thanksgiving,” said Victoria Stahl, barista in Terminal 4. “We did that and now we are ready to go back to the negotiating table.”

“It’s disgusting that I have to go to Mexico for medical care because the health insurance through the company doesn’t cover my treatment,” said Lucia Salinas, cook at Cowboy Ciao. “HMS Host saved more than $4 million on their rent during the pandemic thanks to rent relief from the City of Phoenix, but my family doesn’t get anything like that. Because we went on strike, now everyone can see what kind of company HMS Host is.” 

Over the course of the strike, the union filed numerous unfair labor practice charges against their employer for allegedly violating the workers’ rights to organize and strike. The charges, filed with the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), allege that the company has interfered with workers’ federal labor rights by, among other conduct, questioning workers concerning whether they would be supporting the union and going on strike,  limiting speech in the workplace, and surveilling workers’ protected activity. 

“We want to thank the community for all of the support they showed us while we’ve been on strike,” said Beatriz Topete, organizing director with UNITE HERE Local 11 “The tweets from travelers, the thumbs up from other airport workers, the daily deliveries of food and drinks all kept us going. The generosity of our labor partners, especially the UFCW Local 99 and the Arizona AFL-CIO, made this Thanksgiving one we will remember for the rest of our lives. Solidarity means everything.”

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

Along with issues like affordable healthcare and retiring with dignity, strikers plan to return to negotiations with a focus on ensuring equality at work on the basis of race, gender, age, and sexual orientation. On November 18, the union formally asked the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate the company’s pay and promotion practices. In a complaint filed with the EEOC, the union alleged that during 2019 Black/African American workers were paid on average only 67% of the total earnings of white workers, taking home on average $9,539.49 less per year than white workers. Several individual HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor have also filed pending sex and age discrimination complaints with the EEOC. 

Click here to learn more about the strike and hear worker testimonials. 

 

As Indefinite Strike Rages On, UNITE HERE Local 11 Workers at Sky Harbor’s HMS Host File Federal Unfair Labor Practice Charges

Workers allege the company has engaged in coercive conduct in violation of labor laws
and asked the National Labor Relations Board to investigate

PHOENIX – On day five of an indefinite strike, HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor airport announced their union has filed unfair labor practice charges against their employer for allegedly violating the workers’ rights to organize and strike. The charges, filed with the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), allege that the company has interfered with workers’ federal labor rights by, among other conduct, questioning workers concerning whether they would be supporting the union and going on strike, limiting speech in the workplace, and surveilling workers’ protected activity.

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

The pending charges filed this week and prior to the strike include allegations that:

  • The company has instructed certain workers that they are not allowed to speak about union-related issues at work.
  • The company has surveilled, or created the appearance of surveilling, workers’ federally protected union activity.
  • The company has threatened workers that participating in a strike without prior notice could result in discipline.
  • During the ongoing strike, management has instructed workers to retrieve their paychecks in person at a new location and then questioned the workers whether they would be going on strike.
  • The company instituted a new mobile ordering system at Starbucks that has increased the workload of baristas without providing the union with notice or an opportunity to bargain.

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. On November 18th, after almost four years of negotiations and no contract, workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize the strike.

This June, UNITE HERE Local 11 filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging that Host management directed two Starbucks baristas to remove their “Black Lives Matter” masks, which workers had decided to wear as part of an effort to advance racial equity at the company. After a regional office of the NLRB investigated, Host agreed to settle the charge by pledging to employees that it will not prohibit workers from wearing Black Lives Matter masks.

Concerns about racial justice have featured prominently at HMS Host. On November 18, the union formally asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate the company’s pay and promotion practices. In a complaint filed with the EEOC, the union alleged that during 2019 Black/African American workers were paid on average only 67% of the total earnings of white workers, taking home on average $9,539.49 less than white workers. In 2020, UNITE HERE issued a report alleging a $1.85 median hourly wage gap between Black and white baristas at Starbucks facilities operated by Host at airports across the country. Several individual HMS Host workers at Sky Harbor have also filed pending sex and age discrimination complaints with the EEOC.

ADVISORY: Indefinite Strike by Sky Harbor HMS Host Workers Will Continue Through Thanksgiving

Solidarity with strikers continues to grow as HMS Host remains obstinate 

Phoenix – On a day many reserve for gratitude and gathering with family, HMS Host workers will continue to picket, chant and hold a drum line at Sky Harbor. Workers have been on strike since Monday when they announced their indefinite walkout. The strike will impact travelers arriving and departing from Terminals 3 and 4. 

Thanksgiving Day, workers will have a special program to give thanks to each other and for the solidarity of the community.

Veteran Latinx Workers at Chateau Marmont & Hilton Santa Monica Allege Discrimination & State Recall Law Violations

Entities tied to Chateau and Hilton operator Westmont Hospitality Group received millions in federal PPP money intended to bring back workers

LOS ANGELES–Joined by State Senator Maria Elena Durazo and allies, veteran Latinx workers from Hollywood’s famous Chateau Marmont rallied and presented legal complaints yesterday alleging that their employer violated SB-93, the state return-to-work law, by failing to rehire them in order of their seniority and, in one case, that the Chateau Marmont also violated California anti-discrimination law.

State Senator Maria Elena Durazo addresses workers outside the Chateau Marmont

Another worker who worked as a housekeeping inspector at the Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites for almost 30 years also filed a SB-93 complaint yesterday against the operator of her hotel, Westmont Hospitality Group.

Before they were laid off at the start of the pandemic, alongside more than 200 of their coworkers, Martha Moran worked as a housekeeper for more than 33 years and Jesus Moreno worked as a gardener for nearly 20 years at the Chateau Marmont. Yet they both allege that since SB-93 went into effect, Chateau Marmont has unlawfully contracted out room cleaning and gardening work to brand-new agency workers without first offering Moran or Moreno those open positions, as the new state law requires. Of the 50 workers with the longest tenures at Chateau Marmont prior to the layoffs, approximately 46 were Latinx.

“In February, Chateau managers called me to a meeting and told me I was going back to work in a few weeks. But nothing happened. Two weeks ago, Chateau managers called me for another meeting and again they told me I would be going back to work in a few weeks. But I have no reason to believe them this time. I feel like management at Chateau Marmont aren’t respecting my seniority or my humanity, and I say it’s unfair,” said Moran, who had worked as a housekeeper at Chateau Marmont since 1986.

In a letter to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, veteran Chateau Marmont employee Jesus Moreno alleged that shortly after the pandemic layoffs, the hotel rehired a less experienced gardener who was white, U.S.-born, and significantly younger than Moreno, who is a 58-year-old Latino man from Mexico. Moreno alleges that he was discriminated against in rehiring at least in part because of his race, national origin, and age.

“Latinos like Martha and me have the most seniority in almost every department in the hotel, but most of us still haven’t been called us back to our jobs,” said Moreno. “We’ve worked here longer than almost everyone, and we deserve to be respected.”

Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites worker Elba Hernandez also filed a claim yesterday under SB-93. She alleges that she lost wages and benefits because the hotel failed to offer her positions for which she was qualified and had the most seniority. Instead, she claims the hotel hired an employee with no prior experience there to perform her work. While Hernandez has returned to work part-time, the company has still not returned her to the full-time position inspecting rooms she previously performed for nearly three decades.

Entities tied to both Chateau Marmont and Hilton Santa Monica have received millions from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a program intended to help small businesses retain workers. Chateau Marmont received a $1.95 million PPP loan in February 2021, while affiliates of Westmont Hospitality Group received $34 million from the PPP. UNITE HERE Local 11 has asked the Small Business Administration to investigate whether these funds have been spent on payroll costs as intended by Congress, and whether Westmont exceeded the SBA’s PPP limit of $20 million per corporate group.

In April 2021, Senator Maria Elena Durazo led the state Senate and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher and Assemblyman Ash Kalra led the Assembly to pass SB-93 to protect the jobs of hospitality workers who were laid off during the pandemic. The law aims to protect some of the most veteran and vulnerable workers of color in the hospitality and building services industries by establishing a legal right to return to jobs that many have held for years. As a result of the law, more than 700,000 hotel, event center, airport concession, and building services workers in California now have the right to return to their jobs as the pandemic subsides.

“When we passed SB-93 earlier this year, experiences like what Jesus and Martha describe were central to the legislative debate,” said Senator Maria Elena Durazo (SD 24) standing with the workers outside the Chateau Marmont along with student and community allies, Reverend Walter Contreras of the Black-Brown Clergy Committee, and Reverend Gary Williams of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church and a board member of CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. “Now, laid-off workers have the right to return to their pre-pandemic jobs and we expect this hotel—and every affected employer in the state—to respect that right. I am proud to join these brave workers standing up to demand that SB-93 is followed and enforced.”

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ADVISORY: Sky Harbor HMS Host Workers’ Indefinite Strike Reaches Day 3

Airport concessions worker strike continues into busiest travel day of the year

Phoenix – HMS Host workers’ indefinite strike will reach its third day just one day before Thanksgiving, reportedly the busiest travel day of the year. Striking workers will continue to picket, chant and hold a drum line in protest of HMS Host’s unwillingness to agree to their demands for a fair labor contract. The strike will impact travelers arriving and departing from Terminals 3 and 4. 

On Tuesday, striking workers were joined by State Senator Martin Quezada (LD29) and State Representatives Reginald Bolding (LD27) and Melody Hernandez (LD26) on the picket line. 

Monday, workers walked out and joined an energized picket line and rally outside Terminal 4. Workers were joined by local community groups, labor allies, and elected officials

Advisory: LAX Food Workers to Stage Day-Long Protest on Busiest Travel Day of the Year

Citing vote Tuesday in key City Council subcommittee, airport workers say they’re still struggling to stay healthy and housed while employers take advantage of pandemic relief

LAX workers will dedicate Wednesday’s all-day demonstration in solidarity with striking airport concessions workers in Phoenix who are also members of Local 11

Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council subcommittee on Trade and Tourism, chaired by Councilmember Joe Buscaino (District 15), voted on a third round of rent relief for LAX concessions companies. Concessionaires have already received 15 months of rent relief and two-year lease extensions meant to allow them to make extra money as business recovers. None of the relief was passed through to essential airport workers in any direct way, despite many being laid off. 

As of September 2021, LAX domestic passenger traffic had returned to 74% of September 2019 levels.

Meanwhile, fellow union airport concessions workers in Phoenix have been on strike since Monday. UNITE HERE Local 11 Phoenix strikers demand 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. 

HMS Host is the largest airport concessions company in North America and at LAX, where the company operates numerous restaurants, all on-airport Starbucks locations, and American Airlines lounges in Terminal 4 and Terminal 5.

# # #

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.