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.

UNITE HERE Local 11 Endorses “Living Wage Hero” Lindsey Horvath for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Danielle Wilson | dwilson[at]unitehere11[dot]org | 818-534-799nine

Los Angeles – UNITE HERE Local 11 is proud to endorse West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors District 3. She was a decisive vote in passing the highest citywide minimum wage in the country.

Horvath’s victory on the minimum wage wasn’t easy. As early as 2015, the young Councilmember led the “Fight for $15” in West Hollywood, but despite her advocacy the then-City Council did not pass her proposal. This past summer Horvath became Mayor of the city, and things started to change. Mayor Horvath fought for and won groundbreaking legislation to protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault, give them the right to return to their jobs by seniority amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and to improve the minimum wage to make sure housekeepers are fairly compensated for heavy workloads. Just months later, Horvath was the deciding vote to pass the highest minimum wage in the country at $17.64, making West Hollywood a national leader on policy for working people.

“Lindsey exemplifies what it means to be a public servant who fights for working people,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Our members can count on her no matter what, and that’s who we need to send to the Board of Supervisors.”

“The new minimum wage in West Hollywood will change my life, the lives of hotel workers across town, and all workers,” said Sandra Pellecer, who has worked as a cook in West Hollywood hotels for 16 years. “Lindsey Horvath fought for us and I’m proud to stand with her.”

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UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union representing 32,000 members who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.

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.

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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.

Chateau Marmont Unlawfully Surveilled Its Laid-Off Workers at Protests, Finds Federal Labor Board Investigation 

Press Release: 01/10/2021

Chateau Marmont Unlawfully Surveilled Its Laid-Off Workers at Protests, Finds Federal Labor Board Investigation 

As Hotel Agrees to a Settlement, Workers File Second Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Hollywood Hotel

Los Angeles, CA. Following an investigation of an unfair labor practice charge, a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has required the Chateau Marmont to commit to refraining from interfering with workers’ right to organize a union as part of a settlement agreement.

In July 2021, UNITE HERE Local 11, the union supporting laid-off Chateau Marmont workers, filed the charge with NLRB Region 31, alleging that multiple managers and other personnel of the hotel, including Managing Director Amanda Grandinetti, unlawfully filmed and photographed the lawful demonstrations of laid-off workers.

“I gave 33 years of my life to the Chateau Marmont and never once did I feel seen or heard. Yet the moment my coworkers and I began to speak out, the hotel started watching us. I am glad that the federal government has sided with us and recognized our rights to organize,” said housekeeper Martha Moran.

After interviewing workers and reviewing witnesses’ photographs and videos, among other steps, the Los Angeles office of the NLRB found evidence to support the workers’ charge.  Avoiding a formal complaint and hearing, the company entered into a settlement requiring that the Chateau Marmont commit to respect workers’ federal labor rights and refrain from engaging in unlawful surveillance or other acts that interfere with workers’ rights.

On the heels of the settlement, the union has filed another charge with the NLRB, alleging the hotel has recently committed several more violations of federal labor law in response to its workers’ ongoing organizing efforts, including unlawfully questioning a worker about her union sympathies and unlawfully soliciting worker grievances.

Background: The Chateau Marmont has been embroiled in controversy amid two lawsuits by black women workers alleging harrasment and discrimination and a growing boycott backed by Aaron Sorkin, Alfonso Cuaron, Gabrielle Union, Issa Rae, Jane Fonda, and productions like Being the Ricardos and The Offer. 

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.

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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.