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.

Travel Alert: HMS Host workers vote 98% to strike 

MEDIA ADVISORY: December 22, 2021
CONTACT: Maria Hernandez | mhernandez@unitehere11.org | 623-340-8047

LAX Travel Alert: HMS Host workers vote 98% to strike

Hundreds of airport food workers to stage day-long protest Wednesday

WHAT: All-day worker protest at LAX Terminal 4
WHO: Hundreds of airport concessions workers & members of UNITE HERE Local 11
WHERE: LAX Terminal 4, upper level (departures)
WHEN: Wednesday, December 22, 2021. Workers will picket constantly 9 AM–4 PM.
VISUALS: Uniformed concessions workers marching, chanting, and drumming at LAX Terminal 4 wearing festive holiday accessories, red t-shirts, and signs that say “Raise LAX.”
Follow the hashtag #LAXStrike and @UNITEHERE11 on Twitter 

WHY: Ahead of the holiday travel rush, airport food workers with half a dozen airport concessions companies from every LAX terminal plan to demonstrate at Terminal 4 all day Wednesday to protest a labor dispute with airport concessions giant HMS Host. 

On Monday, American Airlines Admirals Lounge workers employed by HMS Host voted 98% to authorize a strike and may announce a walkout any day. 

HMS Host workers accuse the company of dragging out their labor dispute, resulting in many long-term workers going without a raise, except for those required by the airport minimum wage law, for more than three years. 

HMS Host workers at LAX are members of UNITE HERE Local 11, whose members at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport were on strike for 10 days during the height of last month’s Thanksgiving travel. 

HMS Host is the single largest concessionaire at LAX, employing nearly 700 workers at dozens of restaurants in most LAX terminals and all on-airport Starbucks stores. HMS Host workers also staff the American Airlines Admirals Club and American Eagle lounges in Terminal 4 and Terminal 5.

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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.

Is There Room at the Inn? Civil Rights Leaders Hold Candlelight Vigil for Jobs & Racial Justice for Workers at Chateau Marmont

Southern Christian Leadership Conference echoes the call to boycott “Hollywood’s Playground”  

Los Angeles: During this holiday season and in this time of waiting, workers, civil rights leaders, and community allies hosted a candlelight vigil to continue the call for jobs and racial justice at the Chateau Marmont.

The vigil follows an event in August, where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference hosted a discussion about racial equity in the hospitality industry.  Today, SCLC delivered a letter in support of the workers in their struggle for justice.

 “We have heard alarming allegations concerning practices at your establishment. As a Black-led organization that follows in the tradition of Dr. King, we stand with all of our Black brothers and sisters as they seek justice.” said Pastor William D. Smart, Jr. President and CEO, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California.

Amidst carolers and holding candles, vigilers shed light on the experiences of Black and brown workers at the Chateau Marmont, including the stories of Thommi Gross and April Blackwell, two black women who filed lawsuits earlier this year alleging that they experienced discrimination and harassment while working at the famous hotel.  Both women’s lawsuits have been moved into private arbitration, a secret court system that disproportionately affects women of color.

“As I allege in my lawsuit, the Chateau Marmont let guests call me names, even threaten me with violence, and they didn’t take any accountability when we complained or try to fix the problem. As a Black woman working overnight at the front desk, I felt that guests treated me much worse than they would treat a white person.” said April Blackwell, former night auditor at the Chateau Marmont. “I am here speaking out today because I want accountability for how I was treated. The Chateau needs to know that all of their workers deserve to be safe at work, regardless of their race and gender.” 

Supporters also honored the stories of veteran latino workers Jesus Moreno and Martha Moran, who each filed state recall complaints alleging the Chateau Marmont failed to bring them back in order of seniority, as SB-93 requires.  In late November, former gardener Jesus Moreno also submitted a letter to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging that shortly after the pandemic layoffs, the Chateau rehired a less-experienced gardener who was white, significantly younger, and born in the U.S.–and that Moreno was discriminated against in rehiring at least in part because of his race, national origin, and age. 

SCLC also announced it is boycotting the famed hotel, joining celebrities like Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, until workers are brought back in accordance with their legal rights and treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

Chateau Marmont workers were joined by Southern Christian Leadership Conference, CLUE, Creating Justice LA, Black & Brown Clergy Committee, UNITE HERE Local 11 and others.

“Hollywood’s playground should not be at workers’ expense.” said Pastor Cue of the Church Without Walls and Faith Rooted organizer with CLUE.”

“We demand justice for Chateau Marmont workers, and we will not eat, sleep, gather, film, or use any of these premises until the workers are treated with dignity and respect.” said Pastor Gary Williams, Co-Chair of Board of Directors of CLUE

Click here to view the SCLC Letter to Chateau Marmont.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Backs Christy Holstege For State Assembly

UNITE HERE LOCAL 11 BACKS CHRISTY HOLSTEGE FOR STATE ASSEMBLY

Palm Springs Outgoing Mayor Endorsed by UNITE HERE Local 11 in Assembly District 42 Contest

PALM SPRINGS, CA – In a powerful indication of her support from working families in the race for Assembly District 42, today outgoing Palm Springs Outgoing Mayor Christy Holstege secured the endorsement of UNITE HERE Local 11.

UNITE HERE Local 11 represents over 32,000 hospitality workers employed in hotels, casinos, restaurants, airports, sports arenas, and convention centers throughout Southern California.

The hospitality workers’ union has a long history of organizing in the Coachella Valley, and is the hospitality local for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.  In 2004, UNITE HERE leader Ada Briceño, who is today Co-President of Local 11, was arrested alongside United Farm Workers hero Dolores Huerta in an act of civil disobedience at a protest in downtown Palm Springs highlighting the working conditions of casino workers.

“At this crucial moment for labor, it’s critical that we have more leaders in Sacramento who have a record of delivering for working people,” said Briceño.  “That’s why UNITE HERE Local 11 is thrilled to support Christy Holstege for Assembly District 42. With her impressive record of uplifting workers’ rights as a civil rights attorney and on the Palm Springs City Council, we are confident that Christy will deliver good middle-class jobs and a fair economy for all in the State Legislature.”

​​Holstege also released the following statement reflecting on the influential endorsement:

“I’m deeply honored to have the support of the working families that make up UNITE HERE Local 11. They give a voice to the many voiceless working people in our communities fighting for better treatment and higher wages. As a civil rights attorney and local elected official who has fought to defend worker rights throughout my career, I am profoundly grateful for their support of my campaign for Assembly and look forward to working with UNITE HERE Local 11 to uplift working families in Sacramento.”

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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.

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

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