PRESS INQUIRIES

For Press Inquiries:
Maria Hernandez, Communications
(623) 340-8047 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Rachele Smith, Communications
(623) 670-9889 (mobile)
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Some of the following press releases have been shortened and edited to avoid redundancy.

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Compass/BAMCO Dining Hall Workers at Whittier College on Indefinite Strike

Workers on day 5 of striking for better wages and a pension

Whittier, CA: Dining hall workers who make and serve the food for the Whittier College campus and community walked out on an indefinite strike Monday for a contract with better wages, benefits and a pension.

Following last week’s wave of strikes by Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and food service workers, dining hall workers at Whittier College are the latest to walk out for the union contract they deserve.

Many of the workers, who are predominantly people of color, earn between $17 and $18 an hour, and many have to work multiple jobs to survive.  Some who have worked at Whittier College for decades have no way of retiring with dignity and face housing insecurity.

“After working for 17 years at Whittier College I only make $17 an hour. I had to move my belongings into a storage unit because I cannot afford to rent my own place,” said Daisy Machado, who works for Compass/BAMCO at Whittier College.

“I love serving the students but I am on strike because with what I make now I have to pinch pennies. Having a pension and better wages would be good for me, my family and my coworkers. We are part of the Whittier family and deserve for both Compass/BAMCO and Whittier College to value our work,” said Luis Martinez, who has worked at Whittier College for 15 years.

“I am on strike because I have to work two jobs. With what I earn working 8 months out of the year at Whittier, it is impossible for me to survive. I come here every day and give my best. I feel deeply saddened that the company is refusing to do the same for us,” said Mayra Macias, who has worked for Compass/BAMCO at Whittier College for 17 years.

“It is a huge sacrifice for me to feel like I have to choose between paying my rent or eating a meal. After working at Whittier College for 25 years I should not have to make that kind of choice. I am close to retiring, and have nothing to fall back on,” said Maria Guillen, who works for Compass/BAMCO at Whittier College dining halls.

“It is a human right to be able to provide for your family, and with the wages we are getting right now I have to choose between paying my car insurance or paying my rent. We are not asking for much, only for what is fair.” said Hector Silva, cook for Compass/BAMCO at Whittier College for 6 years.

The dining hall workers are represented by UNITE HERE Local 11 and work for Compass/Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO) at Whittier College, BAMCO is a subsidiary of Compass Group, the sixth largest company in the world.

Workers have been without a contract for 8 months, and no raises since 2021. Workers voted to authorize a strike a few weeks ago.

UNITE HERE Local 11 endorses Marisa Alcaraz for Council District 6

UNITE HERE Local 11 endorses Marisa Alcaraz for Council District 6.  This district is the home of many hospitality workers and is important to our Union. We believe that Marisa Alcaraz will best represent our members at the City of Los Angeles.

UNITE HERE Local 11 recognizes that among the many candidates in this district, there are a few who have track records advocating for our members. Marco Santana was endorsed by our allies at EAA and has been a leader on an issue of great urgency to the working poor: housing. Imelda Padilla worked with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and was a supporter of our efforts to raise the minimum wage for hospitality workers.

But while we credit these significant contributions by Santana and Padilla,  Marisa Alcaraz has the strongest history with our Union. She led the fight for a groundbreaking sectoral minimum wage for hotel workers – Raise LA – which became an example for hospitality minimum wage laws around the country.  Marisa Alcaraz stood with our members in the face of stiff opposition from powerful corporations, and we are proud to stand with her today.

“I’m voting for Marisa Alcaraz because she has been through hard struggle with us, has marched with us on the picket line, and understands our issues.” – Ana Cortez, room attendant at the Beverly Hilton. 

 

Hollywood Groups and UNITE HERE Local 11 Call for Boycott of Famous Tommie and Thompson Hotels 

Call for boycott includes associated restaurant and nightclub venues 

Hollywood, CA: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice joined UNITE HERE Local 11 today in calls for a boycott of the ritzy properties in the heart of hollywood.

The boycott launched by UNITE HERE Local 11 asks the public only return to the Tommie and Thompson Hollywood Hotels and associated restaurant and nightclub venues Mother Wolf, Bar Lis, Ka’Teen, Mes Amis when they have demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that all workers and guests–regardless of their race, sex, body size, sexual identity or personal background–feel treated with dignity and respect and until the hotel owners enter into meaningful dialogue with community stakeholders to address the social impact of these businesses on the Hollywood community. They ask no one to eat, sleep, drink, or celebrate in these venues while the boycott is in effect.

In a joint letter sent to Machine Investment Group, Taconic Capital, Miramar Capital, Ten Five Hospitality and potential buyers of the Tommie and Thompson hotels, CLUE and UNITE HERE Local 11 said:

“The Tommie and Thompson Hotels have become well-recognized establishments, celebrating exclusivity, wealth, privilege, and glamor. It is not lost on us that there is a deep disconnect between the hotels and the lived reality of their neighbors here in the heart of Hollywood,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.“We hope that any future owners or buyers understand that we are looking for a good neighbor, willing to honor the hotels’ workforce and community, and who will be willing to fully address these concerns.”

Since the properties were put up for auction Tommie and Thompson have been embroiled in controversy as publicly aired disputes between business partners left workers in limbo.  UNITE HERE Local 11 also sent a letter to the owners and operator of the Tommie and Thompson Hotels in Hollywood alleging that the 5% service fee charged by at least five related restaurants may violate LA’s service charge laws and threatening to take legal action on behalf of employees harmed by the practice. Last month, the Union also called on the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office to investigate these potential violations.

Anaheim Hospitality Workers Submit Over 25K Signatures on Initiative to Guarantee Protections Against Sexual Assault and Fair Pay led by UNITE HERE Local 11

PRESS RELEASE: 03/13/2023

PRESS CONTACT: Maria Hernandez | 623-340-8047 | [email protected]

Anaheim Hospitality Workers Submit Over 25K Signatures on Initiative to Guarantee Protections Against Sexual Assault and Fair Pay led by UNITE HERE Local 11

Initiative would follow lead of Irvine and other cities to mandate panic buttons and other protections for hotel housekeepers

Anaheim: Hospitality workers in Anaheim have filed signatures for the “hospitality worker bill of rights law.” 

In recent years, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Glendale, and West Hollywood have adopted laws guaranteeing fair pay for heavy workloads and protection against sexual assault for housekeepers who work alone in guest rooms, among other protections.  Last year, Irvine became the first city in Orange County to follow suit by passing a “hotel housekeeper bill of rights” law.

The movement has now moved to Anaheim, where thousands of community and worker proponents have called for city ordinance providing the following standards at hotels and event centers:

  • Panic buttons with a security guard on call, mandatory training and security protocols to protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault and threatening conduct by guests and others

  • Fair pay when housekeepers are assigned heavy workloads and a prohibition on mandatory overtime after 10 hours

  • $25.00 minimum wage for hotel housekeepers and other hotel workers with an annual increase in wage to reflect the cost of living

  • Protections ensuring workers are retained when new owners or operators take over their workplaces

The initiative comes as workers across the hospitality sector report that they have been forced to perform increasingly burdensome workloads without fair pay as business returns to pre-pandemic levels.

“I want Anaheim to know that all hotel workers have the right to protections and fair pay for heavy workloads,” said Irayda Torrez, a housekeeper for 33 years at Hilton Anaheim where panic buttons were not provided until 2019. “Housekeepers want to feel respected by having fair pay for our hard work and a wage that accounts for the rising cost of living.”

“The tourism industry’s workforce is tired of feeling overworked and underpaid as business returns to pre-pandemic levels,” states Ada Briceño, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Anaheim should look to Irvine as an example and adopt the housekeepers initiative to provide hotel workers with fair wages for hard work and guarantee protections for women on the job.”

Anaheim workers who run the city’s profitable tourism industry deserve dignity and respect, and all housekeepers should have basic protections in the workplace.

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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

UNITE HERE Local 11 Secures 4+ Million Dollar Deal with Recall Rights, Free Health Insurance and Pension Contributions for Laid Off Workers at Loews Santa Monica Hotel

Santa Monica, CA:  Hotel workers at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel reached a historic agreement with the hotel’s new operator, IHG and the hotel’s owner, Strategic Hotels, to provide recall rights, free family health insurance and pension contributions for the expected 9 month closure due to renovation of the property.

The UNITE HERE Local 11 bargaining committee secured an agreement that is worth more than $4,000,000 that includes:

  • Guaranteed Right of Recall
  • Fully Paid Free Family Health Insurance during layoff
  • Fully Paid $3.00 an hour Pension Contributions during the layoff
  • Penalty Pay if the renovations exceeds 9 months
  • Generous Severance Package for workers nearing retirement.  Some workers could earn more than $120,000.

“We fought hard for this extraordinary agreement.  While we are nervous about how we will survive during this layoff, knowing that our families will have health insurance and we will continue to build our pension is an enormous relief.  At antiunion hotels like Casa Del Mar and Shutters we know that we would be completely at their mercy.  At our hotel, because of the Union, we have a voice and can demand and win what we need,” said Ligia Rivas, who spent 11 years as a room attendant at Loews.

The hotel is expected to reopen before the end of the year as the Regent Santa Monica.

Airline Catering Workers at Flying Food Group Vote to Authorize Strike, 99% YES

Inglewood, Calif. — Employees of Flying Food Group Inc. (“FFG”), a company that provides in-flight meals at Los Angeles International Airport, voted today 99 percent in favor of authorizing a strike. 

The vote comes amidst a labor renaissance as teachers and other service workers across the region fight for better jobs. 

The workers’ primary contract demand is a significant raise to keep pace with the soaring cost of living. Some employees, the overwhelmingly majority of whom are people of color, earn only $18.04 an hour. 

Workers are also striking due to allegations that FFG locked multiple emergency exits to prevent workers from picketing and has not taken effective action to protect female employees from sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.

I will strike Flying Foods if we do not achieve a good contract for me and my family,” said Norma Reyes, 51, who sets up equipment for the catering company. “I cannot live on these poverty wages and feed my family.  We have also filed numerous complaints alleging FFG’s treatment of us violates the law. This company must change how they treat us. If it takes a strike to do this, I will strike along with my coworkers.”

“When multiple doors were bolted shut on the day of our picket, it felt like the company was treating us like animals and was trying to interfere with our union rights,” said Gary Duplessis, 62, a cook at the facility and a complainant to Cal/OSHA, “It was dehumanizing. We’re tired of being treated like this. If a strike is what we need to do to get FFG to respect our legal rights, we are ready. We are ready to do whatever it takes to get what we rightfully deserve.”

Evelin Flores, 37, who filed a sexual harassment complaint with the California Civil Rights Department, stated, “I voted yes because every employee deserves a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. After what my trainer did, I felt anxious and helpless. I have thought about leaving my job but I have five children and I have to provide for them. Together with my coworkers, I’m willing to strike for justice, for accountability and for a better life for my family and me.”

Airline catering workers serve the international tourists who visit our city year-round, and they will serve the athletes and travelers who come here for the World Cup and the Olympics,” said Susan Minato, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, the union that represents FFG employees. “Our union is committed to making sure that ALL tourism workers make enough to live near where they work, can retire with dignity, and are treated with respect on the job. Flying Food Group is failing in all of these areas, and so these workers are ready to strike.”

FFG employs more than 300 workers at LAX who provide in-flight meals to more than a dozen major airlines, including Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. Last year, Flying Food Group earned $46 million in revenue.

Airline catering workers’ collective bargaining agreement with FFG expired in June 2022, and a six-month extension produced little progress during negotiations.

Terranea Housekeepers Launch Voter Initiative for Fair Pay and Legal Protections Against Sexual Assault on International Women’s Day 

Initiative would follow neighboring cities’ adoption of laws guaranteeing legal protections for housekeepers

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA: Today, Terranea Resort Housekeepers and their community allies launched a ballot initiative, the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, that would require hotels to provide fair compensation to hotel housekeepers and ensure legal protections for housekeepers from threatening conduct from guests when they work alone in guest rooms.  The ordinance would require:

  • Panic buttons with a security guard on call, mandatory training and security protocols to protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault and threatening conduct by guests and others
  • Fair pay when hotel housekeepers are made to clean an excessive number of guest rooms
  • A $25.00 minimum wage for hotel housekeepers and other hotel workers with an annual increase in wage to reflect the cost of living

In recent years, similar laws have gained traction and now protect housekeepers in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Glendale, West Hollywood, and, most recently, Irvine.

In November 2019, as reported by the LA Times, the Terranea Resort’s ownership contributed more than million dollars to defeat a similar ballot initiative which would have protected housekeepers—a group made up predominantly of immigrant women of color—in Rancho Palos Verdes.  Undeterred, the resort’s housekeepers and their community allies are returning to finally win the legal rights they have been demanding for years.

“Across the tourism sector, we are seeing housekeeping workers being forced to take on even more burdensome workloads, even as business returns to pre-pandemic levels.  RPV should follow the many other cities that have enacted laws guaranteeing housekeepers get fair pay for their work and protections against threatening conduct,” said Nico Gardner-Serna, a member of the Rancho Palos Verdes community.

In recent years, multiple women, including 2017 Time Person of the Year Sandra Pezqueda, have alleged they experienced sexual harassment and other misconduct while working at the Terranea Resort.  The resort is owned by Lowe, led by Robert and Michael Lowe, and JC Resorts, which was recently accused of sexual harassment by women workers at a country club the firm manages.

“I felt there was no respect or protection of my rights at Terranea,” says Sandra Pezqueda. “Rancho Palos Verdes workers and community members know that we need to strengthen our laws to prevent abuse in the tourism industry.”

Community members and California NOW, the Feminist Majority, and the California Democratic Party have pledged to boycott the Terranea until women workers are treated with dignity and respect.

“The Terranea is a pariah. They spent more than a million dollars so that they would not be legally required to respect basic legal rights for their workers, many of whom are women.  They used the pandemic to fire their employees, discarding them like they were disposable, even as their owners, like Robert J. Lowe, continue to amass wealth from the hotel,” stated Lorena Lopez, director at UNITE HERE Local 11. “This law would protect the welfare of housekeepers who make the owners of hotels like Terranea so wealthy.”

In April 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, Terranea fired most of its employees, including those who had worked at the hotel from its opening.  Terranea workers led the fight to win SB-93—California’s right to return to work law—ensuring that the Terranea’s workers had a legal right to return to work at the hotel. The Office of the Labor Commissioner, led by Lilia Garcia-Brower, investigated complaints from workers alleging violations of the recall law.  As reported by the LA Times, after the DLSE cited the company for allegedly violating the law, the Terranea agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to 53 workers laid-off at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic whom the agency alleged it had failed to recall, or timely recall.

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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

Irvine Voters Stand by Hotel Housekeepers; Reject Half-Million Dollar Referendum To Block Pro-Woman Law

Irvine, CA The hotel industry failed to collect the number of valid signatures required to referendize the Housekeeper Bill of Rights passed in November by the Irvine City Council.

Housekeepers fought to pass the bill in 2022, which provides:

  1. Provide working panic buttons and other security measures like 24-hour security to protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault and other threatening conduct.
  2. Reinstate automatic daily room cleaning.
  3. Ensure fair compensation for heavy workloads.

Led by Hyatt Hotels and the American Hotel and Lodging Association the industry spent over half a million dollars to defeat a law that would protect women from assault on the job and provide fair compensation for heavy workloads.  Their efforts proved unsuccessful and voters in Irvine rejected their message and stood by Irvine’s hospitality workers.

“My coworkers and I fought hard to pass the Housekeeper Bill of Rights in Irvine, and we are glad voters believed in the will of the City Council and us when we told them what we needed,” said Maria Balderas, housekeeper at the Irvine Hilton.

“The hotel industry lied to voters to protect their bottom line. In the end, voters saw through the sham and believed women, ” said Ada Briceño, co-president UNITE HERE Local 11.

Irvine became the first city in Orange County to pass increased protections for housekeepers. California cities such as Long Beach, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Glendale and Los Angeles have similar ordinances.