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.

High resolution photos are available upon request.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Endorses Hugo Soto-Martinez for Los Angeles City Council District 13

Los Angeles, CA: Today, on behalf of UNITE HERE Local 11 members who live and work in Los Angeles City Council District 13, the union has announced its enthusiastic endorsement of long-time leader Hugo Soto-Martinez for Los Angeles City Council.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hugo is a U.C. Irvine graduate who has committed his life to fighting for California families. He is an experienced, compassionate, and effective leader who knows how to get things done for the residents of CD 13.

As a server at the L.A. Grand Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, Hugo led a successful union organizing drive. Since then, Hugo has dedicated the past 15 years to standing up for his colleagues and members: the room attendants, cooks, and bartenders who have built and sustain the vital tourism industry in Los Angeles. Hugo’s organizing victories in the workplace have improved the lives of thousands of Angelenos.

As a member of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, Hugo worked to reduce displacement, support the development of affordable housing, and help address our city’s homelessness crisis. As a leader of UNITE HERE Local 11, Hugo has played an instrumental role in efforts to mitigate the effects of illegal short-term rentals on the housing market.

Hugo has worked with leaders of the Democratic Party of California to advance the rights of everyday people across the state. Hugo has organized for immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for our country’s undocumented people and has fought to resist federal policy that tears immigrant families apart. He has also led legislative campaigns to raise wages and protect workers from unsafe conditions.

Hugo has also worked with community groups across Southern California to increase transparency and accountability for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He has been a leader of the movement seeking justice for Andres Guardado, the young man shot five times in the back by the Department in 2020.

On the City Council, Hugo will continue his work and fight to ensure that CD 13 is a vibrant community where everyone—regardless of background or income—can participate in the public decisions that affect their lives. “We need someone to represent this district that represents our values and also has Hugo’s experience bringing people together to make change,” said Liliana Hernandez, a seven-year member of UNITE HERE Local 11. “As a hospitality worker, mom, and resident of District 13, I am excited that Hugo is running to represent me.”

Arizona Activists Descend on AZ Attorney General’s Office to Protest Republican Voter Suppression and Demand Federal Action to Protect Voting Rights

Phoenix, AZ – Nine people were taken into Phoenix Police Department custody after participating in a peaceful civil disobedience outside of Attorney General Brnovich’s office Thursday morning as part of a rally and picket line protesting his relentless attacks on Arizonans’ voting rights.

“We are telling Mark Brnovich, our Attorney General, that we will not just sit by and watch as our rights are stripped away. We deserve real national voting rights legislation and we will do whatever it takes to make that happen,” said Joshua Wells, a community organizer.

On July 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in support of Brnovich’s defense of two restrictive voting laws. The decision gutted Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, undermining historic protections against racial discrimination in elections. Additionally, the Arizona state legislature passed a flurry of anti-voter measures at the tail end of the session that concluded last week. One of those bills requires the Secretary of State to provide voter information, including’ date of birth and part of their Social Security number, to a third-party private vendor who could then remove them from the voter rolls.

At the same time, the Arizona legislature took the unprecedented move of removing powers from the Secretary of State and conferring them on the Arizona Attorney General, a move that coincides with the end of Secretary Katie Hobbs’ term. Attorney General Brnovich announced his intention to run for U. S. Senate in 2022 on June 10.

“We have brave freedom fighters here today who are going to demand justice from our Attorney General and demand that he stop attacking the freedom to vote. When you have a complicit governor, a complicit attorney general, [and a] complicit majority-Republican legislature, there’s only so much we can do here today,” said State Representative Athena Salman, addressing the crowd, “We need Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Mark Kelly and President Joe Biden to stand up. We delivered for them and now they have to deliver for us. The number one thing, the foundation of our democracy, is protecting our freedom to vote.

More than 75 attended the action that highlighted the need for the For the People Act – federal voting rights legislation – to protect against the 350+ voter suppression bills introduced across 47 states since January 2021.

The same coalition recently completed a weeklong freedom ride to Washington D.C for voting rights.

Relief for Workers, Not Billionaire Corporations Like HMS Host

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

HMS Host LAX workers and Ron Herrera outside Los Angeles City HallLos 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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Civil Rights Fight of our Lifetime: Hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 11 Members & Community Allies Launch Freedom Ride From Phoenix, AZ to Washington D.C to Pass the For the People Act

Who: UNITE HERE Local 11, CASE Action, Black Voters Matter, and other community allies
What: Launch freedom ride to urge the Senate to pass the For the People Act
When: Launch June 18, 2021 from Phoenix, AZ – June 26th, 2021 Washington, D.C
Phoenix, AZ: In 2020, UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action knocked on a million doors to turn Arizona blue and went to Georgia to take back the Senate. Now, UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action join Black Voters Matter on a historic 10-day Freedom Ride from Arizona to Washington D.C to ask lawmakers to do what is necessary to pass the For the People Act.

Since the 2020 general election, over 350 anti-voter bills have been introduced in 47 states. For Arizonans, the attack on voting rights demonstrates the need for federal legislation to protect voters. The For the People Act would protect voting rights by prohibiting gerrymandering and unnecessary voter roll purges, guaranteeing transparency for election contributions, protecting the right to vote by mail, and automatically registering eligible Americans to vote.

Inspired by the Freedom Rides of the 1960’s Civil Rights era, freedom riders will drive across the South with stops at historical cities like Tulsa, OK, Little Rock, AK, Montgomery, AL and more. Four buses are launching from Phoenix, AZ with members from Arizona and California on board. They will join three other bus routes and converge on Washington D.C. by June 26. While in D.C., members plan to lobby elected officials on behalf of the For the People Act.

Background: The For the People Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives but now awaits a vote in the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future with the filibuster. One of Arizona’s senators, Kyrsten Sinema, has repeatedly said that she is unwilling to reform or eliminate the filibuster. Members hope to meet with her and share their voting-rights concerns while in Washington D.C.


CASE Action Fund is an economic justice organization dedicated to improving the lives of Arizona’s working families through policy advocacy and increasing participation in the political process


WeHo Hotel Workers and Allies March to City Hall to Demand Immediate Action

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.

With the industry scheduled to reopen in less than a week, dozens of laid off hotel workers urged the City to bring the ordinance to a vote as soon as possible.

“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.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Supports LACDP’s Vote for Sheriff Alex Villanueva to Resign

UNITE HERE Local 11 Supports  LACDP’s Vote for Sheriff Alex Villanueva to Resign

Passage comes ahead of one-year “Angelversary” marking the death of Andres Guardado


Los Angeles, CA: Tonight, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party voted 91% in favor of a resolution calling for the accountability and resignation of Sheriff Alex Villanueva. The party initially endorsed Villanueva during his election.

The killing of Andres Guardado was outlined as key evidence for the approval of the resolution. On June 18, 2020 while working as a security guard in Gardena, LASD deputies shot Guardado five times in the back, as reported by two independent autopsies. The eighteen-year-old had gotten the job at an auto body shop to help provide for his family after his father, a hotel worker and UNITE HERE Local 11 member, was laid off due to COVID-19.

The resolution was led by UNITE HERE Local 11 who first launched efforts for Sheriff Villanueva to resign in July 2020 with groups like Black Lives Matter, ACLU, and CLUE. 

 “We want to thank the leadership and members of the Los Angeles Democratic Party for their strong and courageous vote. Tonight’s vote is an important moment in our union’s fight to stand up against the atrocities of the Sheriff’s department under Alex Villanueva,” said Ada Briceno UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President and DNC member. 

“Our job goes beyond endorsing someone. We also need to hold our elected officials accountable. It is important that we make sure their actions are aligned with our values. And if they’re not, we must take a stand and continue to fight for the things that matter most,” said Elise Moore, Corresponding Secretary of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and Co-chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Judicial Interview Committee.

The resolution was supported by community groups like SEIU 2015; NUHW; UFCW 770; Roofers Local 36; UTLA; UNITE HERE Local 11; and many others.

On the one-year “Angelversary” of the killing of Andres Guardado, June 18th, UNITE HERE Local 11 will hold a press conference outside the Hall of Justice and later be joined by the Guardado family continuing the call for justice. The union and its allies also plan to hold a march from the auto shop where Andres was killed to the Compton Sheriff’s station on Saturday June 19, 2021 from 11am-1pm.  

“Serving Our Community” Recognized with Prestigious National Workforce Award

The Hospitality Training Academy will be presented with W.O Lawton Award this June by the National Association of Workforce Boards in Washington, DC

Los Angeles, CA: May 28, 2021—The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) recently announced Serving Our Community Program as the winner of the prestigious W.O. Lawton Award. The award will be presented at NAWB’s upcoming Forum 2021 in Washington, D.C.

UNITE HERE Local 11 and HTA’s “Serving Our Community” program has prepared and delivered over 3.75 million meals. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the program has provided 1,100 jobs to recently laid-off union and non-union workers and served 10,000 homebound seniors, people experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence and
slavery & trafficking, and low-income families.

“Thank you to the National Association of Workforce Boards for this amazing honor. We are so proud to have brought back so many workers to provide meals for those in need and also help reenergize the economy.” said Adine Forman, HTA Executive Director.“The Serving our Community Program shows what we can accomplish together – when labor, employers, and elected officials come together to innovatively and safely provide vital resources to our community,” said Susan Minato Co-President of UNITE HERE Local and Chair of the Board of Trustees for the HTA.

“Over the past year, workforce development boards, leaders and industry partners have gone above and beyond to provide essential services in a time of national crisis,” said Ron Painter, President and CEO of NAWB. “NAWB could not be more honored to recognize each of these award recipients. Workforce Development Boards are a critical piece of our country’s infrastructure, and we are thrilled to take a moment to recognize them at our annual event.” The “Serving Our Community” Program was selected out of a large pool of nominations for W.O. Lawton Award, which recognizes businesses and business organizations that have made the commitment of time, money, and leadership to make their community’s workforce and
economy more vibrant. To learn more about all of the award winners and NAWB’s annual event The Forum, please

What Labor Shortage? LAX Employees Demand Airport’s Biggest Concessionaire Recall Laid Off Workers

HMS Host again faces employee protest as workers remain on layoff in the wake of subcontracting

L.A.’s airport authority has granted the company millions in rent relief

Los Angeles: HMS Host workers at LAX protested Wednesday to demand that the airport’s largest food and retail concessions employer stop outsourcing food preparation work and allow them to return to their jobs.

LAX airport workers protest claims of labor shortages while workers remain on layoff

UNITE HERE Local 11 alleges that HMS Host outsourced work that is typically done by union members, purchasing products such as salads and wraps from an outside vendor to sell at its LAX sites. The Union asserts this has resulted in lost work opportunities for HMS Host workers.

HMS Host Executive Vice President Derryl Benton recently claimed that HMS Host currently has 4,400 job openings around the country. Meanwhile, most HMS Host workers at LAX remain on layoff and say they don’t know when HMS Host will allow them to return to work.

HMS Host is the largest airport concessionaire in North America. In 2020, the city’s airport authority LAWA authorized waivers that enabled HMS Host to escape paying in excess of $4 million in contractually-obligated rent, according to estimates by UNITE HERE Local 11. In addition, LAWA granted HMS Host valuable two-year extensions on their direct contracts at LAX. Italian billionaires own HMS Host’s parent company Autogrill through a holding corporation, Edizione, which had a net asset value of $14.98 billion as of December 2019.

HMS Host workers at LAX are over 90% people of color (and over 20% Black) and live in the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of its LAX workforce remains laid off.