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.

Hunger Strike for Voting Rights Day 5: Hunger strikers deliver massive cake iced with “Voting Rights Now” to Senator Sinema

CASE Action, UNITE HERE Local 11 activists find new ways to urge Senate to pass Freedom To Vote Act 

Phoenix: Yesterday, activists with UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action entered the fifth day of their hunger strike to urge elected leaders to pass critical voting rights legislation by gathering outside of Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s office to deliver a message—and a cake.

Four helpers accompanied the group of half a dozen hunger strikers in wheelchairs and red sashes to carry the 200-serving cake iced with the message “Voting Rights Now”–an invitation to Senator Sinema to join in the campaigns to secure voting rights. Along with the cake, the Arizona hunger strikers attempted to deliver their handwritten letters to Senator Sinema expressing concern about her inaction on voting rights. Senator Sinema’s staff did not accept the cake or their letters.

“We came here to tell Senator Sinema that we hope she will deliver voting rights for the people of Arizona,” said Marilyn Wilbur, hunger striker with CASE Action and 18-year US Air Force veteran. “No matter what happens, I will continue to fight for the voting rights we deserve.” 

“Voting Rights Now” was also the message on banners held by fellow hunger strikers today who took arrest on the steps of the U.S. Senate while the body began debate on the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Act.

“What these strikers have done to protect our right to vote is creating a generational impact. We are with you for what comes next as we continue to build our beloved community,” said Dr. Jannah Scott of the African American Christian Clergy Coalition.

“I have faith that my sacrifice of going four days without eating has told Senator Sinema and all of Congress that I will keep doing whatever it takes to be on the right side of the history of this beautiful country,” said Irma Pacheco, a hunger striker in Arizona with CASE Action and UNITE HERE Local 11.

In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of laid off cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, and bartenders with CASE Action and UNITE HERE Local 11 knocked on a million doors to win Arizona for Biden, and delivered two U.S Senate seats in Georgia. 

Last year, the Arizona state legislature passed laws that hurt both workers and voters by purging early permanent voting rolls and other harmful anti-voter changes. Since the 2020 election, state legislatures across the country have introduced hundreds of bills that make it harder for working people and people of color to vote.

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

Hunger Strike Kick-Off Ahead of MLK Day by UNITE HERE Local 11, CASE Action & Un-PAC to Urge Senate to Pass of Freedom To Vote Act 

Local 11 and CASE Action launch the hunger strike for the freedom to vote at the Arizona capitol

PHOENIX–UNITE HERE Local 11, CASE Action, and Un-PAC today launched a hunger strike outside the Arizona State Capitol to continue to pressure elected leaders in Washington to pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

On day 1, strikers were joined by State Senator Raquel Teran and Pastor Aubrey Barnwell, among others.

Beatriz Topete, an organizing director with UNITE HERE Local 11, said, “It isn’t time to roll back the clock on voting rights–it’s time to move forward! Just yesterday, 40 of our fellow activists with un-PAC relaunched their hunger strike in Washington DC. And today, strikers in Arizona are joining in because we know that Arizonans believe in the freedom to vote.”

Last year the Arizona state legislature passed laws that hurt both workers and voters. Across the country, 400 bills were introduced to make it harder for people of color to vote. In response, UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action went on a 10-day Freedom Ride from Arizona to Washington D.C to draw attention to the attacks on the freedom to vote across the country.

“The freedom that I have spent my life protecting is under attack,” said Marilyn Wilbur, CASE Action organizer and veteran of the US Air Force. “The Arizona legislature last year passed a law that will purge hundreds of thousands of mail voters from the Permanent Early Voter list, and another that will limit the time voters have to fix a signature on their ballot. Our state is part of a national trend to limit voting rights. That is why I joined the hunger strike for the freedom to vote.”

 

Ari Berrong-Huber, a UNITE HERE Local 11 member at Sky Harbor airport, also shared why he’s fighting for the freedom to vote. “Last August, I joined hundreds of other union members in a civil disobedience in DC. The freedom to vote is a sacred right. It is the way citizens can fight for better education, access to healthcare, and protections during the pandemic. Now I’m joining the hunger strike to call attention to the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. We can’t let loopholes and obstructionism stand in our way.”

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of laid off cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, and bartenders knocked on a million doors to win Arizona for Biden, and delivered two U.S Senate seats in Georgia. Now, those same workers are forgoing food to protect our democracy. Hunger strikers plan to join the King family at Arizona Deliver for Voting Rights mobilization and Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

# # #

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.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Wins Historic First Union Contract at JW Marriott Le Merigot Santa Monica Hotel 

PRESS RELEASE: 01/05/2022

UNITE HERE Local 11 Wins Historic First Union Contract at JW Marriott Le Merigot Santa Monica Hotel
Amid Surging Pandemic Room attendants will earn $25 an hour and enjoy free family health insurance

Santa Monica, CA.: Ending one of the longest-running and highest profile labor disputes in Santa Monica history, UNITE HERE Local 11 and its members have reached a historic agreement with JW Marriott Le Merigot Santa Monica Hotel.

The agreement achieves our union scale among all other Unite Here Local 11 hotels in Santa Monica by June 2023. 

–          Minimum wages of $25 an hour by the expiration of the contract

–          Free excellent family health insurance

–          Defined Benefit Pension Plan enabling workers retire in dignity

–          Job security protections

“Hats off to Stockdale Capital for being a responsible employer and for embracing Santa Monica’s values of community and justice.  Thank you to the heroes of this struggle: the courageous room attendants who never lost faith, fought every day against a nefarious Columbia Sussex, and won an extraordinary union agreement,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

“This contract is life changing. This is the first time, after working for 10 years in the hotel industry, that I had a seat at the table to fight for the wages and benefits we deserved. None of these changes would have been possible without the union,” said Ismelda Reyes, laundry attendant who has worked for 10 years at Le Merigot Santa Monica Hotel.

The labor standards provided under UNITE HERE Local 11’s collective bargaining agreements far exceeds those provided by the few remaining non-union Santa Monica hotels, such as The Shore, Casa Del Mar and Shutters.

Background: Housekeeping employees at the hotel won a union election in 2016. Columbia Sussex, the then-owners and managers of the hotel, fought the unionization effort, leading to a contentious and bitter labor dispute that dragged on for more than five years.

During this period, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board found evidence to support more than 11 unfair labor practice charges against Columbia Sussex alleging violations of federal labor law. To settle these claims, hotel management agreed to pay over $35,000 in bonuses the company withheld from workers in 2016, rescind seven disciplines issued to employees, and offer reinstatement to a worker who was fired. In 2021, workers also won thousands of dollars through the settlement of claims filed against the company with the California Labor Commissioner.

Just in Time for Christmas, HMS Host Workers in Three Cities Ratify New Contracts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 24, 2021

Food workers at Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Orange County airports win significant raises and improved job security

Airport food workers with UNITE HERE Local 11 voted to ratify new contracts with HMS Host Thursday at Los Angeles International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, and John Wayne Orange County airports.

All three two-year agreements lift workers at the bottom of the payscale to livable wages and establish stronger job security and anti-discrimination protections.

The ratification Thursday also averts a potential strike authorized this past Monday by American Airlines Admirals Club lounge workers employed by HMS Host at LAX.

“I love my job and what I do, but the money I’ve been making hasn’t been enough to live on,” said Evelyn Torres, an LAX lounge attendant. “I voted yes to go on strike if we had to, and I’m so proud that now we have a new agreement and we’re getting the raises we actually deserve.”

Workers in Phoenix won an agreement that dramatically improves health insurance cost-sharing for employees—a critical point for many who were on strike for 10 days during the peak of Thanksgiving travel last month.

“The health insurance alone will be life-changing for me and my family,” said Lucia Salinas, a cook at Cowboy Ciao at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. “After fighting for a contract for about four years, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief that we have what we need and deserve.”

“The pandemic, being unemployed, years of going without—it’s been hard. But we’ve kept fighting to get through it. Knowing what we’ve won shows that it was all worth it,” said Reyna Gonzalez, a cook for HMS Host at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

HMS Host is the single largest concessionaire at LAX, Sky Harbor, and John Wayne airports—employing nearly 1300 workers at dozens of restaurants and all on-airport Starbucks stores. HMS Host workers also staff the American Airlines Admirals Club and American Eagle lounges at LAX.

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.

# # #

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 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.”

###

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.