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.

Three Million Meals Prepared by “Serving Our Community” Free Meal Program

UNITE HERE Local 11 and Hospitality Training Academy Provide 1,100 Jobs

LOS ANGELES (March 3, 2021) — UNITE HERE Local 11 and Hospitality Training Academy’s “Serving Our Community” program prepared and delivered its three-millionth meal today. The milestone was celebrated at the LA Convention Center with City, County and State officials and representatives from UNITE HERE Local 11, Levy Restaurants, LA Convention Center, participating hotels, and the taxi and airport shuttle industry.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the program has employed 1,100 union and non-union workers in the hospitality, food service and taxi industries who were laid off due to the pandemic. With funding primarily from the City of Los Angeles and County of Los Angeles, the three million meals have served 10,000 homebound seniors, people experiencing homelessness and low-income families.

These meals are cooked in the industrial kitchens at Levy Restaurants at the Los Angeles Convention Center, JW Marriott LA LIVE, The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, Pomona College, Sheraton Grand LA and The Beverly Hilton, and then delivered by taxi cabs and airport shuttles.

Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles

“COVID-19 has posed unprecedented and unpredictable challenges across our communities, but it’s also shown us the true meaning of the Angeleno spirit — a collection of compassionate, generous, determined individuals ready to step up and support our seniors and our neighbors in need. Progress is made through partnerships, and the City is proud to work hand-in-hand with UNITE HERE, the Hospitality Training Academy, and the Serving Our Community program to create jobs for our hospitality workforce and deliver high-quality meals to our hardest-hit residents throughout this pandemic.” 

Local 11 Joins Assemblywoman Gonzalez to Continue the Fight to Protect Jobs of Workers Laid Off Due to COVID-19

SACRAMENTO–California’s hospitality workforce is experiencing unprecedented levels of unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 1074, supported by hotel workers and UNITE HERE Local 11, to make sure hospitality workers are able to return to work when their employers can safely resume business operations.

“Latinos have made up the backbone of the hospitality industry for decades. Many stayed with the same employers for years in order to work their way up and earn a stable living. They have already disproportionately suffered the brunt of this pandemic,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “When hotels and event centers can safely reopen, the least we must do is ensure workers can return to the jobs they previously held. AB 1074 is commonsense policy that provides the support our local communities need to recover from this economic crisis.”

Earlier today, Assemblywoman Gonzalez joined dozens of workers who caravanned from Los Angeles and Orange County to La Jolla for a press conference outside JC Resorts’ corporate headquarters. JC Resorts owns and operates hotels and golf courses across California, including the Terranea Resort in Ranchos Palos Verdes, which terminated much of its workforce amid the pandemic without making a binding commitment to rehire longtime workers when the hotel reopened. Gonzalez’s AB 1074 would help ensure job security for these workers by establishing statewide rehiring and retention protections for California’s hospitality workforce.

Nearly 40% of all California jobs lost during the pandemic have been in the hospitality industry. AB 1074 would save hundreds of thousands of jobs and boost long-term economic recovery by ensuring qualified, laid-off employees in the hospitality industry are offered employment when their jobs become available as businesses reopen. The bill would prevent discriminatory hiring practices designed to cut costs by replacing longtime employees with a less experienced workforce at lower rates of pay.

“California’s hospitality workforce has been decimated by COVID-19, and these employees deserve basic protections which will allow them to return to the jobs and wages they earned before the pandemic as the industry reopens,” Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angles), principal co-author of AB 1074, said. “This bill effectively addresses the concerns Governor Newsom raised to our prior effort.”

A number of local jurisdictions across the state have already passed similar ordinances to ensure hospitality workers have the right to return to their previous jobs, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Long Beach, and Pasadena.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Latina Inequities. For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, visit http://asm.ca.gov/gonzalez

UNITE HERE Local 11 Urges President-Elect Biden to Appoint Julie Su as Labor Secretary

Hospitality union throws its weight behind CA’s Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development

Los Angeles – Today, the Co-Presidents of UNITE HERE Local 11 sent a letter to President-Elect Biden, urging him to appoint Julie Su to the position of Secretary of Labor. Su has earned a reputation as a strong, effective, and results-oriented leader over a twenty-five-year career, recovering the largest amount of unpaid wages on behalf of California workers in the state’s history.

Co-President Susan Minato notes, “She will be a Secretary for all of America’s workers—women and men, white workers and people of color, citizens and immigrants alike. She is absolutely the right person for the extraordinary challenges confronting our country today.”

“We know firsthand Julie’s record of accomplishment in California—as a groundbreaking workers’ rights and civil rights lawyer, as Labor Commissioner, and now as California’s Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development,” says Co-President Kurt Petersen. “As Secretary of Labor for California, she has helped to lead the state’s response to the economic crisis posed by COVID-19.”

Ada Briceño says, “Julie Su’s nomination for Secretary of Labor would be recognition of her strong record here in California, and it would also reflect President-Elect Biden’s commitment to diversify the Cabinet with women and people of color who have been ignored by previous administrations..

UNITE HERE Local 11 in Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia: UNITE HERE Local 11 celebrates the victories of Senators-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the US Senate after leading a five-week ground operation with nearly 400 canvassers knocking on 550,000 doors to get out the vote in Georgia.

“I am so proud of UNITE HERE Local 11, whose laid-off members canvassed side-by-side with community partners to help win the US Senate runoff race. Our Arizona team moved to Georgia at Thanksgiving and knocked on 550,000 doors in Dekalb and Gwinnett Counties. We had 150,000 conversations with voters about how significant these races were to their lives. They listened and showed up to vote in record numbers.” said Susan Minato, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

UNITE HERE Local 11 was the largest contingent of the overall UNITE HERE program whose cumulative goal was to knock on 1.5 million doors with more than 1,000 canvassers in Georgia.

“This victory is not just for Georgia, but for all workers of color like myself who, though severely impacted by this pandemic, chose to rise up and fight back together. We will continue to push and make sure that healthcare, relief, jobs and justice are made a priority,” said Marilyn Wilbur, laid off service worker from Arizona State University canvassing in Georgia.

Six-Months Have Passed and There’s Still No Justice for Andres Guardado

 Allies Demand Independent Investigation and Justice on Six-Month Mark of LA Sheriffs’ Murder of Andres Guardado

Posada and Silent Caravan follow Action by Supervisors Exploring Options to Remove Sheriff Villanueva, and Sheriff’s Deputies Refusing to Cooperate in Coroner Investigation

Los Angeles, CA: On the six-month mark of Andres Guardado’s murder at the hands of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies, a coalition of civil rights and worker rights groups held a posada and silent car caravan to continue calls for an independent investigation and justice for the Guardado family.

Nearly a hundred cars participated in the socially distant procession which included costumed figures of angels, Joseph, and Mary, flower wreaths and large posters of Andres Guardado. The posada walkers were met on the corner of Grand and Temple with the lead car adorned by a wreath of flowers.

“My brother was a very bright student and a very good brother and son to my father and mother who did everything he could to provide for our family. I really hope there is justice in his name because what they did to him was unfair and no young man deserves what he got. We can’t bring him back so our pain will always be here but we demand justice and that would at least help our pain” said Jennifer Guardado, sister of Andres Guardado.

On June 18, 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 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.

“When the deputies shot Andres they tore a hole in all of our flesh. When the deputies took Andres’s life, they stole a piece of all of our souls. When the Sheriff blocks an independent investigation of Andres’s killing, he violates all of our rights.” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Like others killed at the hands of law enforcement, Andres Guardado was not just a statistic. His family & our community deserve answers, not obstruction.”

LASD officials have thus far refused to cooperate with an independent investigation, stonewalling the Inspector General.  Recently, a Sheriff’s deputy who shot Guardado and two other LASD detectives involved have refused to testify in the coroner’s inquest into Guardado’s killing, the first of its kind in 30 years, stating they will invoke the Fifth Amendment. In November, the  Board of Supervisors directed County Counsel to explore ways to impeach and remove the sheriff.

The coalition has called for Villanueva’s immediate resignation. In response, the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission unanimously passed a “vote of no confidence” resolution also urging Villanueva’s resignation.

Lawsuit Forces Short-Term Rental Platform Out of L.A. Market

Lawsuit Forces Short-Term Rental Platform Out of L.A. Market

Citing lax public enforcement, activists vow more action to uphold city’s Home Sharing Ordinance

Los Angeles, CA: A short-term rental host and platform announced last week that it will stop offering short-term rentals in the City of Los Angeles.  The announcement comes just days after residents filed the first lawsuit seeking to enforce the Los Angeles Home Sharing Ordinance.

“Synergy’s capitulation is a huge victory for laid-off hospitality workers, housing advocates, and neighborhood activists working to ensure Los Angeles enforces its existing regulations on short-term rentals,” said Randy Renick, partner at Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai.   “It is the City Council’s responsibility to enforce the law, but we won’t let their failure keep us from taking action to protect our clients.”

Laid off hospitality workers filed their lawsuit against Synergy Global Housing LLC on December 1 alleging that the company is violating the city’s Home Sharing Ordinance that has been in effect since July 2019. Synergy is a member of CapitaLand, a real estate company headquartered and publicly traded in Singapore.

Los Angeles passed the Home-Sharing Ordinance to address an extreme shortage of affordable housing and the negative effects short-term rentals on the long-term housing market. The Ordinance strictly limits home sharing to primary residences and requires “hosts” of short-term rentals to register for a permit. It also prohibits “host platforms” from processing booking transactions for listings without a valid City Home Sharing registration number.

Better Neighbors LA released a review last week showing that the city’s poor enforcement of the Ordinance has left the city inundated with illegal short-term rentals. Despite the lack of enforcement, just last month the Los Angeles Planning Committee, led by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, voted 3–1 to move to the full council a massive loophole in the existing Home Sharing Ordinance. The proposed Vacation Rental Ordinance would allow nearly 15,000 additional short-term, Airbnb-type rental units in the city.

Community groups like Better Neighbors LA and UNITE HERE Local 11, who expect the Vacation Rental Ordinance to reach the full council for a vote in January, have been urging against the Vacation Rental Ordinance as L.A. renters face a possible eviction crisis because of the economic impact of COVID-19.

HMS Host, Pay Up!

Workers of LAX Giant HMS Host Call on Company to “Pay Up”

Concessionaire faces wage class action and a million-dollar bill for worker health insurance, while hundreds of airport workers remain laid off

Los Angeles, CA: Sixty laid off LAX workers took to their cars Thursday to caravan through the airport with horns, lights, and signs that say “HMS Host Pay Up.” The protest came ahead of a move by the airport authority Board of Airport Commission to grant the company a valuable lease extension.HMS Host has been the subject of controversy and criticism from its own employees in recent months.

“During the pandemic, HMS Host has repeatedly failed to live up to its most basic obligations towards its workers.  When its workers needed them most, HMS Host turned its back,” said UNITE HERE Local 11 Director Robin Rodriguez.

This October, Host workers filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging it failed to pay wages they are owed under the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance, despite numerous complaints from employees. The still-pending lawsuit also alleges that Host also failed to comply with California labor laws requiring employers to pay final wages to terminated employees immediately.

Following worker complaints, the Los Angeles City Council voted down a financial package for HMS Host estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars in lease extension-related revenue and rent relief.

Workers are now drawing attention to HMS Host’s alleged failure to make healthcare contributions to help maintain health care coverage for its laid-off workers.  A health benefit fund covering its employees has informed Host that it is delinquent in paying more than a million dollars in benefit contributions required under a City rent relief program for airport concessionaires.

“My family and I have had to make many sacrifices during this pandemic to make ends meet and it scares me to think I could lose my healthcare  if HMS Host does not pay up what it should,” said Carlos Castillo a bartender at HMS Host at LAX for 21 years.

HMS Host is the largest operator of airport concessions in North America and at LAX. Its parent company, Autogrill, is owned by a family of Italian multi-billionaires whose holding corporation had assets valued at $13.8 billion last year.

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

TAKE BACK 2020

UNITE HERE knocked on doors of 3 million voters to win AZ, NV, and PA for Joe Biden

UNITE HERE organized the largest union door-to-door canvass operation in the U.S.

UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers’ union, organized the country’s largest union-door-to-door canvassing operation. Today, the union announced that those efforts in Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania point to a clear path to victory for Joe Biden.

UNITE HERE has been preparing for the 2020 election since 2016, identifying several counties for targeted door-to-door outreach. Among them were cities now critical to the outcome of the current race: Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In those key areas, UNITE HERE canvassers got out on the doors first, starting a ground game as early as July in Nevada and Arizona to turn out voters who did not cast ballots in 2016. In Philadelphia, the operation began October 1 and grew dramatically from 50 to 500 canvassers over five short weeks.

As part of UNITE HERE’s Take Back 2020 campaign, 1,700 canvassers—many of them Black and Latinx union members whose jobs and families were hit hard by COVID-19—knocked on the doors of three million Americans in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida to encourage them to vote. These efforts helped drive the unprecedented turnout of this presidential election and will make the critical difference that wins the presidency for Joe Biden.

“I’m incredibly proud of UNITE HERE and our members,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, “It was clear that we needed to take back our country, and even more clear how to do it: through face-to-face conversations and the type of in-person organizing that our union does best. With Take Back 2020, we built a program that made a critical difference in Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, and we thank the other labor unions, progressive allies, and individual donors that worked with us to accomplish that goal.”

By the Numbers

3 million doors were knocked by UNITE HERE canvassers in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida
462,135 infrequent voters pledged to vote for Biden/Harris via a conversation with a UNITE HERE canvasser
120,775 of voters spoken to by a UNITE HERE canvasser had not voted in in 2016 in their current state
Over two-thirds of our conversations were with voters of color
10 million phone numbers were dialed by UNITE HERE phone bankers

ARIZONA

Susan Minato, Co-President, UNITE HERE Local 11
“UNITE HERE Local 11 has been running political campaigns in Arizona since 2007. During this pandemic, this cycle has been no exception. We knocked on 800,000 doors, made 2.5 million calls, and talked to 250,000 Arizonans. More important than any demographic changes, it is the face-to-face conversations with voters that has made Arizona turn blue in 2020.”

NEVADA

Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer, UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union:
“The Culinary Union is proud to have mobilized tens of thousands of hospitality workers and voters to elect representatives who will fight for our families. Because of the efforts of the largest political team comprised of 500 UNITE HERE and Culinary Union canvassers on the ground statewide who knocked on 500,000 doors. The unprecedented turnout in Nevada, which was led by those most directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, is a mandate on Donald Trump’s failed leadership. Ever since he assumed the office, Trump has been a daily threat to the livelihoods of workers and our families. We are taking back our country and delivering Nevada for political candidates who will represent working families and fight for our issues. Nevadans need comprehensive COVID-19 relief now, a fair economy that centers workers, racial justice that ensures Black Lives Matter, and a democracy that includes all of us – whether we are Black or white, Native or new immigrant, Latinx or Asian.”

PHILADELPHIA

Nicole Hunt, President, UNITE HERE Local 634
“This is what we do as a union—we organize. The members I work with are primarily Black and Brown leaders who need to see a change in this country. They had lost hope in the system so they did not vote last election and they may not have this year either. But we went to them to help them find their voice, to let them know their vote matters. We’re proud of the work we have done, and we are proud to have taken our country back.”

Rosslyn Wuchinich, President, UNITE HERE Local 274
“We believe we made the difference in Pennsylvania by focusing our efforts in the disenfranchised Black and Brown communities where most of our members live. Four years ago, when a hotel owner won the State of Pennsylvania and the White House, we pledged to do whatever was needed to take back our country. And despite a pandemic that has devastated our industries and our communities, we did just that. That is a testament to how our union brings together those from all walks of life to harness our collective power and win for all working people.”

“The key takeaway from this election is that working people were the saviors of democracy – workers did the essential door-to-door canvassing and everyday working voters turned out; with their votes comes a mandate for change to help working and low-wealth people,” said UNITE HERE Secretary-Treasurer and acting Political Campaigns Director Gwen Mills, “We expect the administration to provide economic relief for workers left jobless by COVID-19 and to support workers to join unions.  Protecting access to quality health care, implementing structural change for racial equity and immigration reform, and insuring workers are at the center of the economic transition necessary for climate change are the key issues.  UNITE HERE is proud to have made a critical difference in this election so that agenda can move forward.”