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.

Arizona’s Largest Political Field Operation

Election Day will Mark 800,000 door knocks for Arizona’s Largest Political Field Operation

300 canvassers operating out of five offices across greater Phoenix focused on winning Arizona for Biden/Harris, Mark Kelly for Senate, and pro-working-family candidates in state and local races

Phoenix, Arizona: In an Election Day push to get out the vote in Arizona, more than 300 canvassers with UNITE HERE Local 11 will launch their final door-to-door field canvass to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Mark Kelly. These efforts make the campaign the largest on-the-ground field operation in Arizona for the Biden/Harris presidential ticket and U.S Senate candidate Mark Kelly, as well as races to flip the state legislature in support of pro-worker candidates and to win the state-wide education funding measure Proposition 208.

UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action project that their canvass will have yielded 800,000 door knocks and resulted in 200,000 in-person conversations with voters. They have also made over 2.5 million phone calls and talked to more than 60,000 voters on the phone. Key canvassers and campaign directors will be monitoring nation-wide election results at the campaign headquarters and will be available for in-person interviews.

Local 11 launched its canvass in July with community organizing partner CASE Action and has been knocking on 20,000 doors a day for Biden and Kelly, as well as state and local candidates and issues. UNITE HERE Local 11 was the first organization in the country to develop COVID-19 safety protocols that would enable political canvassers to safely return to the field. Since then, other campaigns across the country have looked to the union’s efforts and begun to use similar safety models.

UNITE HERE affiliates in the key swing states of Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Florida are also running the largest political field operations in their respective states. The union is committed to seeing the election process through and ensuring that every vote is counted.

Statement Regarding Governor Newsom’s Action on AB 3216

AB 3216 would simply have allowed hospitality workers to return to their jobs as the industry reopens. This veto is devastating to the low wage workers who built the hospitality industry, especially women of color, who were looking for a leader to walk with them through this time of struggle. The most powerful elected Democrat in the state sided with the wealthy hotel owners of the Terranea Resort and Chateau Marmont instead of hardworking hotel workers. The pain for immigrant workers is compounded by the Governor’s additional vetoes of AB 826 (emergency food assistance to immigrants) and SB 1257 (workplace safety protections for domestic workers). Our families and communities lose with the combined impact of these actions. We are thankful to all of the Democratic legislators who stood with the working poor and supported these essential protections.

The housekeepers, dishwashers, and cooks who led this fight are committed to upholding our democracy. Workers are already on their way to join their brothers and sisters to walk door to door in searing heat of Arizona to save democracy by electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Our commitment to our values and our vision stands strong. When we’re done getting out the vote for this election, we’ll return and fight to make it right for California workers, even if it’s hard to imagine how in this moment of heartache.

Ada Briceño, co-president
Susan Minato, co-president
Kurt Petersen, co-president

“What am I to do without the job that I’ve depended on for so long? Am I supposed to beg my boss not to replace me? I came to the Capitol with hope in my heart that Governor Newsom would hear my story and stand with me as a leader and a Democrat. Instead I see that I will depend on my coworkers so we can defend ourselves against the power of Disney, the Chateau Marmont and the other mega-corporations, and this has always been the truth we face.”

— Maria Sanchez, laid-off worker at Aramark, Anaheim Convention Center

Local 11 Statement on Disney Laying Off Cast Members Due to COVID-19

Cast members plan Caravan to Capitol Wednesday, Ask Gov. Newsom to Sign AB 3216

Anaheim, CA: UNITE HERE Local 11 just learned that Disney will lay off approximately 950 of our nearly 3,000 members, effective November 1.  The Union will engage in bargaining with the company over issues including job security and healthcare coverage.  This highlights the urgent need for AB 3216, the California State law that guarantees recall and retention for hospitality workers. We are asking Governor Gavin Newsom to sign AB 3216 now.

Tomorrow, furloughed Disney workers will caravan to the California State Capitol to ask Governor Gavin Newsom sign AB 3216. AB 3216 would guarantee the most experienced of these workers the ability to return to their jobs when the crisis subsides. Governor Gavin Newsom has until September 30 to sign AB 3216.

The caravan comes after Disney announced it would lay off 28,000 of its cast members due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I love my job, which is why as a mom of five kids I am asking Governor Gavin Newsom sign AB 3216 to ensure that hundreds of thousands of workers like myself have the opportunity to return to their job once the pandemic is over” said Ines Guzman, furloughed housekeeper at the Disneyland Hotel for 5 years.

“Our members have given decades of their lives to companies like Disney. Now through no fault of their own, they are being laid off. We urge Governor Gavin Newson to sign AB 3216 a lifeline for hospitality workers” said Ada Briceño, Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County and Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

Frontline LAX Workers Stage “Die-In” for Extended Healthcare

Frontline LAX Workers Stage “Die-In” for Extended Healthcare Amid COVID-19 Health Crisis

“Hundreds of laid-off workers have spoken at LAWA since the pandemic began.  We have told the board about our families need for extended health insurance.  But it has not been enough.   LAWA is considering millions of dollars more in relief for companies. Thousands of LAX workers facing the loss of healthcare for themselves and their families in a pandemic.  Their lives are at stake,” Robin Rodriguez, Organizing Director UNITE HERE Local 11.

Workers of color at LAX have been some of the hardest hit during this pandemic.  At LAX, upwards of 90% of the concession’s workforce are people of color and over 20% of this workforce is Black. Thousands have been laid off due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make rent, with no secure date of return nor a promise of continued healthcare coverage throughout the pandemic.

HMS Host and Areas USA, the two largest concessionaires at LAX who employ a total of about 1700 workers, have refused to make any additional health care payments for their laid-off employees. Other companies at LAX, like Duty Free Shops, Hudson News and Delaware North Companies, have paid additional months of healthcare for their laid-off workers.

“I have given my life to this airport.  My co-workers have given their lives to this airport.  My company has access to millions and millions of dollars.  I do not.  They can afford to extend our healthcare.  Without healthcare we are at higher risk of losing our lives to COVID.  LAWA should not give relief to them unless they do,” Marlene Mendoza, a server of 32 years at LAX for HMS Host.

Since the pandemic began, HMS Host has received relief worth millions of dollars from state and local governments, and its parent company, Italian giant Autogrill, is negotiating an aid package with the Italian government reportedly worth over $350 million dollars.  Areas USA is owned by Paris-based private equity firm PAI Partners, which has $16 billion under management, including $177 million from the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA).

“We want LAX and LAWA to do the right thing and extend our healthcare. My entire family depends on me for it. I have two young daughters and don’t know what I would do if they got sick,” Elizabeth Mejia, server for AREAS USA at LAX Airport for 8 years.

The City of Los Angeles approved a temporary rent relief package in April for LAX concessionaires requiring recipients of relief to pay for additional healthcare for laid-off workers.  With the pandemic continuing, workers are now seeking to ensure that any new relief for companies include further extended healthcare for laid-off workers and are calling upon companies to participate and extend workers’ healthcare.

Local 11 and Allies Demand Sheriff Villanueva’s Resignation

LA Hotel Workers Union and Allies Demand Sheriff Villanueva Resign

Los Angeles, CA: Hundreds of community members, led by UNITE HERE Local 11, held a car caravan and delivered a letter demanding the immediate resignation of Sheriff Alex Villanueva because of his failure to reform the Los Angeles Sheriff Department.  Sheriff Villanueva’s refusal to cooperate with an independent investigation of last month’s killing of Andres Guardado by sheriff’s deputies is the last in a dreadful list of malfeasance. The list also includes calling Supervisor Solis a derogatory term and repeatedly blocking internal investigations of deputy misconduct.

UNITE HERE Local 11 was joined by Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles, ACLU SoCal, Justice LA, CLUE, and Check The Sheriff Coalition and more than 60 other labor unions and community groups in the call for Villanueva’s resignation.

“We know an abusive and unjust sheriff when we see one,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Our union successfully unseated Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona in 2016 and we are ready to do the same with Villanueva.”

“Our communities are tired of the lies, abuse, misogyny, and racism that Villanueva consistently hurls at our communities and leaders, said Eunisses Hernandez co-executive director of La Defensa and a member of the JusticeLA Coalition. “It’s time he held himself accountable for his actions and for all the harm he has caused. It’s time he resigns. If not, we’ll make sure he’s out in 2022.”

In 2016, UNITE HERE Local 11 led the successful campaign to unseat the notoriously abusive Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona.   The campaign to oust Sheriff Arpaio was called #AdiosArpaio.  On Thursday, the coalition launched #AdiosVillanueva.

“From the time he was elected, the Sheriff has treated his office as an abusive dictatorship by reinstating an officer who had been fired due to domestic violence, exceeding his budget beyond that of his predecessors, and adding more trauma to the mourning families of murdered loved” said Pastor Cue Jn’Marie of the Check the Sheriff Coalition. “The murder of 18 year old Andres Guardado and the attempted cover up by Sheriff deputies was the last straw that broke our hearts and will break injustice’s back. Adios Villanueva!”

“The ACLU of Southern California calls for the resignation of an elected local official only in dire circumstances when that official presents a ‘grave and imminent threat to civil liberties.’ Sadly, we have reached that point with Sheriff Villanueva, who has turned his back on the people of Los Angeles County and is actively undermining efforts to rein in a department with a long history of abuse and an utter lack of transparency and accountability. He holds a position of the highest trust, and he has betrayed it,” said Hector Villagra, Executive Director of ACLU SoCal.

Andres Guardado was the son of long time UNITE HERE Local 11 member, Cristobal Guardado, who is a cook at the Downtown Grand Hotel.   Andres was killed while working as a security guard at an auto body shop.  Two autopsies – including one by the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner – concluded that Andres perished after being shot five times in the back by a sheriffs’ deputy.

“Villanueva has proven himself to be the most corrupt sheriff in the nation. His brazen refusal to engage community or show even the most basic level of respect for County residents further emboldens the most criminal, violent and murderous elements within the ranks,” said Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles. “In the names of Ryan Twyman, AJ Weber, Andres Guardado, Mitrice Richardson, Paul Rea, Anthony Varga, John Horton and hundreds of others, Villanueva must go.”

“Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice is appalled at the way that Sheriff Villaneuva has handled the investigation into the shooting of Andres Guardado. This, on top of his dismissive relationship with the Civilian Oversight Commission, his neglect of his legal responsibilities to answer subpoenas and be accountable to the people of Los Angeles bring us to call for the Sheriff’s immediate resignation. In the Jewish tradition, doing the work of justice in the world is acting as a partner of God. Similarly, perverting justice is the undoing of creation itself. Sheriff Villanueva has, unfortunately been perverting rather than doing justice and it is time for him to go home, to pave the way for justice for Andres Guardado, and to uproot the injustice in the LASD,” said Rabbi Aryeh Cohen.

Workers Report Increases of COVID-19 Cases at LA Hotels as Industry Continues to Reopen

Workers Report Increases of COVID-19 Cases at LA Hotels as Industry Continues to Reopen

Los Angeles, CA: On Wednesday dozens of hotel workers protested for Los Angeles County to pause reopening of hotels to tourists.

The demonstration drew attention to the surge of workers who since returning to work have tested positive for COVID-19, experienced COVID-19 symptoms, or have quarantined because of contact with guests or co-workers who tested positive for COVID-19.

“UNITE HERE Local 11 has learned of at least 85 hotel workers and guests who have either tested positive or have undergone quarantine since the reopening of the hotel sector to tourists and leisure guests on June 12th. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors needs to put the health and safety of workers and guests first,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

The union believes the true number of people who have contracted the virus or who should have quarantined due their potential exposure is significantly higher, since workers are fearful to report their symptoms or diagnoses and hotels have failed to adequately trace guests and workers who have had contact with COVID-19-positive individuals.

During the protest, workers also raised concerns that hotels have failed to inform guests when a worker or fellow guest has tested positive or has been forced to quarantine.

“I am very concerned that when my hotel opens, I will put myself and my family at risk, I have my son, elderly brother, and grand-daughter living with me. They are my everything. I am scared to go back to work,” said Luz Rizo, a housekeeper at the W West Beverly Hills for nearly 20 years.

Earlier this month, a survey conducted UNITE HERE Local 11  with nearly 2,300 hotel workers found that 75 % of hotel workers do not believe hotels are ready to open.  The union has sent a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors expressing alarm about the rushed timeline of the sector’s reopening.

Labor and Clergy Leaders Hold Car Caravan to Protest Slaying of Andres Guardado

Labor and Clergy Leaders Hold Car Caravan to Protest Slaying of Andres Guardado

Call for independent investigation into Guardado’s death

Los Angeles, CA: Dozens of UNITE HERE Local 11 members and clergy stood in solidarity with fellow union member Cristobal Guardado, whose son Andres Guardado was killed by the L.A County Sheriff’s Department.

Andres Guardado, 18, was killed by Los Angeles Sheriffs on June 18th at 6 pm while at work in Gardena, CA.

Andres is the son of Cristobal Guardado, a hardworking cook and loyal member of UNITE HERE Local 11 for over 14 years. To cover for the family’s financial hardship during the pandemic, Andres had taken a second job. He was killed as he was starting his shift.

“It is very difficult for me to be with you here because I feel devastated. I thank all my union brothers and sisters and those who are here fighting for my son. All I want is for there to be justice for my son,” said Cristobal

Guardado, father of Andres Guardado and member of UNITE HERE Local 11.

UNITE HERE Local 11 is a union in Los Angeles that fights for immigrant rights and represents thousands of hospitality workers across the city. Most recently, they secured a right to recall for hospitality workers after the end of the COVID-19 crisis and have joined with Black Lives Matter – LA in calling for a People’s Budget for the City of Los Angeles.

“We are deeply hurt by this tragedy. As a union that fights for justice for all people, we believe an injury to one is an injury to all. We are committed to following through until justice is served for the slaying of Andres Guardado at the hands of L.A. County Sheriffs,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

UNITE HERE Local 11 joins the call for an independent investigation into Andres’ death by the Office of the Inspector General. Furthermore, the local calls on the Sheriff to release Andres Guardado’s autopsy so that justice may be served for Andres, Cristobal, and their family.