PRESS INQUIRIES

For Press Inquiries:
Maria Hernandez, Communications
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Some of the following press releases have been shortened and edited to avoid redundancy.

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BREAKING NEWS: UNITE HERE Local 11 Hotel Workers Reach Tentative Agreement with Laguna Cliffs Marriot

Los Angeles, CA: UNITE HERE Local 11 and the Laguna Cliffs Marriott have reached a tentative agreement on behalf of striking workers. The tentative agreement focuses on economic issues that, upon ratification, will raise wages, strengthen pensions, and increase investments in healthcare.

Laguna Cliffs Marriott and UNITE HERE Local 11 are proud to have come to an agreement that respects workers and allows staff to focus on providing the highest standard of customer service to guests.

The agreement comes as thousands of striking UNITE HERE workers from across 50 hotels took to the streets of Los Angeles to protest and organize for new contracts.

The agreement was reached in negotiations facilitated by Assembly Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez. “This is an example of how communities benefit when labor and management come together and work towards an agreement that is mutually beneficial.”

“We are proud to announce our latest settlement agreement that meets the needs of our members in wages and benefits,” said Kurt Petersen, Co President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “We are eager to begin a new chapter at Laguna Cliffs Marriott.”

 

STRIKE ALERT: Hundreds of Food and Beverage Workers at Sky Harbor Airport Walk Out Over Contract Dispute

Phoenix, AZ – Hundreds of food and beverage workers employed by SSP America at Sky Harbor Airport walk out on strike. Cashiers, cooks, bartenders, servers, dishwashers, and baristas from well-known airport eateries, such as Matt’s Big Breakfast, Pita Jungle, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Four Peaks Brewing Co., are on strike for better wages and benefits and plan to hold picket lines at the terminals. 

SSP America is contracted by the City of Phoenix to operate food and beverage concessions at the city-owned airport. The contractor employs over 400 workers in both terminals, both pre-and post-security. 

Workers’ collective bargaining agreement with SSP America expired on May 31st. Despite the union’s proposals during negotiations, the company has not made significant movement on much-needed wage increases, health insurance contributions, and working conditions. 

Last month, SSP America was also the subject of two complaints with the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) reporting what appeared to be rats at Dunkin’ Donuts and cockroaches at Matt’s Big Breakfast and Pei Wei. Per their lease contract with the City of Phoenix, SSP America is responsible for exterminating and preventing the presence of rodents and other vermin within the premises. 

In addition, workers filed multiple federal labor charges against SSP America alleging unlawful disciplinary actions, unilateral changes, and unlawful surveillance. 

Workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 11, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike based on the company’s alleged unfair labor practices and inadequate contract offers on September 1st.

PRESS RELEASE: Thousands of Striking Hotel Workers from 50 Hotels to Take to Streets of Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles:  On Wednesday morning, October 25th, thousands of striking hotel workers from 50 hotels gathered and marched through Downtown Los Angeles  to protest poverty wages and the hotels’ exploitation of unhoused refugees to replace striking workers.

The march comes after a fruitless negotiation meeting last week in which a group of hotel employers presented hundreds of SoCal workers with a “new” proposal to resolve the months-long labor dispute.  Enraging workers, the hotels did not meaningfully improve upon their prior position, offering no new money for wages, pension, or health insurance.  Amid soaring housing costs, workers have been demanding wages that will enable them to afford to live in the communities where they work.  Many now commute hours to and from work, with some hotel workers reporting sleeping in their cars.

The march also comes amid a growing scandal involving hotels’ use of unhoused refugees to replace workers during recent strikes.  As the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday, subcontracted workers, many of whom are unhoused refugees staying in shelters on Skid Row, were brought in to replace unionized workers during the strikes.  Some of the workers were sent to California on buses from Texas as part of Texas Governor Abbot’s publicity stunts.  The subcontracted workers have since alleged that they were exploited while workers in the hotels, with some reporting they were deprived of their legally required meal and rest breaks and were paid in hand-written checks with no explanation of their hourly wage or hours worked.  District Attorney George Gascon announced yesterday he would be conducting an investigation.

While most hotels operated by large chains have remained intransigent in response to workers’ demands for living wages, there have been some breakthroughs.  Most recently, the Loews Hollywood Hotel reached a tentative agreement with its workers, making it the third hotel to do so, following the lead of the Biltmore Los Angeles and Westin Bonaventure.

BREAKING NEWS: Loews Hollywood Reaches Union Agreement; Strikes Continue in Downtown LA and Other SoCal Hotels

Los Angeles, CA: After a historic summer of strikes, UNITE HERE Local 11 and Loews Hollywood have reached a tentative agreement. The Loews Hollywood joins the Westin Bonaventure and the historic Biltmore Los Angeles in signing an agreement with their workers.

“I am extremely glad we came to an agreement that helps us and the hotel move forward, Maria Camarena, housekeeper of 21 years. “My coworkers and I never gave up, and we will continue to support other hotel workers as they continue to fight for what they deserve too.”

Once the contract is ratified, the nearly 300 workers at the Loews Hollywood will enjoy:

  • Unprecedented wage increases that keep pace with the soaring cost of housing in Southern California
  • Affordable, excellent family healthcare
  • Humane workloads and safe staffing
  • Improved pension increases so that workers can retire with dignity
  • Numerous improvements, including historic Equal Justice language that, among other things, will provide access to union jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and ban the use of E-Verify in hiring.

The Loews Hollywood, Biltmore Los Angeles, and the Westin Bonaventure have emerged as leaders in providing fair wages and benefits for its workers and superior service for guests. At the same time, dozens of other hotels, including those with far higher room rates such as the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton LA Live, Beverly Hilton, and Fairmont Miramar, continue to refuse to provide a living wage.

 “Our team members are at the core of what makes Loews the company it is,” said Vincent Piro, Managing Director, Loews Hollywood Hotel. “We are thrilled to be in agreement with our partners at UNITE HERE Local 11 and look forward to continuing to deliver exceptional experiences for our guests, fellow team members and neighbors.”

“We are pleased to announce our settlement with the Loews Hollywood,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Three of the biggest LA hotels  – including the largest in downtown and Hollywood – have decided to put their workers and our city first.  It is time for the rest of the industry to share their prosperity with their workers. ”

District Attorney George Gascon Announces Investigation into Hotels’ Alleged Exploitation of Unhoused Refugees, says UNITE HERE Local 11

Santa Monica –  Today, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced he will launch an investigation concerning hotels’ alleged exploitation of unhoused refugees during recent hotel strikes. 

District Attorney George Gascón emphatically declared, “We take these egregious allegations with the utmost seriousness. The mistreatment of vulnerable workers and their exploitation will not be tolerated. We will conduct an exhaustive investigation, working closely with UNITE HERE Local 11 and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with labor laws and protect the rights and dignity of all workers.”

Many of the agency’s workers are refugees, hailing from countries as far away as Venezuela, and some are temporarily staying at the Union Rescue Mission, a shelter on Skid Row.

The refugees include workers who entered the country to seek asylum in Texas and were part of Texas Governor Abbott’s shameful publicity stunt of bussing workers to other states.

The hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 11 asked DA Gascón to launch an investigation regarding potential violations by hotels and their subcontractors of wage and child labor laws. In one instance, a minor is alleged to have missed school in order to work at a hotel. Some of the refugees reported receiving paychecks with little to no documentation regarding hours worked.

The union and immigrant rights groups are calling on the region’s hotels and the government to ensure that the unhoused refugees have jobs where their rights are respected as well as safe and dignified housing.

Refugee worker from Venezuela, Sebastian stated, “I entered a situation where I didn’t even know which agency was hiring me, how much I was going to earn, how many hours I was going to work, much less my rights as a worker.”

UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President Ada Briceño denounced the hotels’ actions. “The hypocrisy of the employers like Le Meridien Delfina is staggering,” Briceño said, “Thank you to District Attorney Gascón’s leadership on this issue. We will not stand by while that happens, our union is committed to continue fighting for all workers.”

State Senator Maria Elena Durazo also stated, “{California} is better than this, and we will continue to stand with these workers in Santa Monica and anywhere else they may face these awful conditions.”

“I’m outraged that Santa Monica hotels have resorted to exploiting the desperation of recent immigrants while their current employees fight for living wages and safe working conditions. It is indefensible that hotels would resort to employing vulnerable, newly-arrived refugees during an ongoing labor dispute with their employees, the vast majority of whom are immigrants themselves,” said Angelica Salas, Executive Director of CHIRLA.

This as next week thousands of tourists, film lovers, and film industry workers will pour into Santa Monica the American Film Market next week, their stays and visits to AFM events in several Santa Monica hotels may be worked by vulnerable, unhoused, and unprotected immigrants.

A white banner outside the DoubleTree San Pedro hotel

San Pedro Housekeepers File Class Action Suit Against DoubleTree Alleging Violations of LA Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance

LOS ANGELES—Today, a longtime housekeeper at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Pedro filed a class action lawsuit against the hotel alleging violations of the Los Angeles Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, which the City of Los Angeles adopted in June 2022. While similar ordinances have passed in Irvine, Seattle, Oakland, Santa Monica, Emeryville, Glendale, West Hollywood, and Long Beach, this is the first lawsuit to be brought under the Los Angeles Ordinance. The workers are represented by Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law and Zoe Tucker of UNITE HERE Local 11.

The ordinance protects Los Angeles hotel workers against the risk of sexual assault by implementing panic buttons and other measures, and it guarantees housekeepers fair compensation when their workloads exceed prescribed limits.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that even after DoubleTree housekeepers reported several violations out of concern for their wellbeing, the hotel failed to comply with the safety provisions of the ordinance, which went into effect in August 2022. The lawsuit alleges that the DoubleTree failed to provide functioning panic buttons, failed to hire 24-hour security to respond to panic button calls, delayed for months to post the required notice of the ordinance on guest room and restroom doors, and failed to provide adequate training to workers.

Plaintiff Bethsabe Alvarez, who has worked as a housekeeper at the DoubleTree for more than 15 years, said, “It is frustrating that my coworkers and I fought so hard to pass this law for our own safety as housekeepers, but it’s been over a year and we still don’t have full-time security or working panic buttons. We do not feel valued as human beings.”

Lauren Teukolsky, who represents the workers, adds, “We hope this lawsuit sends a message to all Los Angeles hotels that they are required to comply with the ordinance immediately. Housekeepers should not have to risk their own personal safety for a paycheck.”

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PRESS RELEASE; CA Labor Commissioner Issues $4.8 Million Citation to Hyatt Regency Long Beach for Failing to Rehire Laid Off Workers

Long Beach, CA –  The California Labor Commissioner’s Office issued a citation Monday totalling $4.8 million to the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, alleging that the hotel failed to recall, or to timely recall, workers to their former positions in violation of state law. The citation is the largest citation known to have been issued against a hotel company in state history.

Signed into law in 2021, SB-93 requires hotels, event centers, and other hospitality businesses to offer employees whom they laid off due the COVID-19 downturn in tourism an opportunity to return to work in open positions for which they are qualified in order of seniority. The law, recently extended until  December 31, 2024,  provides job protection to some 700,000 laid-off housekeepers, cooks, waiters, and others across the state. 

Rigoberto Villagrana, who was laid off by the Hyatt Regency after working at the hotel since 1996, said, “Being laid off during the pandemic has been devastating for me and my family. We’ve struggled to pay our mortgage and keep food on the table. I am really glad to see the state stepping in to make sure Hyatt Regency complies with the law.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office, which is led by Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower, conducted an investigation in response to complaints from workers alleging violations of the recall law. 

“Some of these employees had as much as 24 years of experience, and were suddenly out of work due to a public health emergency,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower. “The employer failed to offer them their old jobs back in compliance with the law.”

After investigating Hyatt Regency’s recall practices, the agency issued a citation to Hyatt Regency for $4,799,563.84 in liquidated damages and interest owed to dozens of workers and civil penalties for the hotel’s alleged failure to recall, or timely recall, workers laid-off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, the hospitality workers’ union that fought for the law and helped the workers file complaints, said, “The Hyatt Regency in Long Beach has treated its veteran workers like they are disposable. This kind of behavior is not only immoral, but as the agency’s massive citation shows, it can also be illegal.” He continued, “I commend the Labor Commissioner for conducting such a thorough investigation and showing that our worker protection laws have real teeth.”

LAX Hotels Walk Out to Protest Employers’ Proposal to Eliminate Affordable Healthcare

Los Angeles, CA:   Hundreds of hotel workers at multiple properties near LAX walked out on strike this morning to protest the employers’ proposal to eliminate affordable healthcare. During contentious negotiations last Wednesday, the hotel proposed a 1% annual increase to pay for healthcare – 6 times less than the projected cost of health care increases.

The hotels’ proposal would result in massive cuts to members’ healthcare, including increased co-pays and massive changes in eligibility.  Under the current plan, workers pay no more than $20 a month for family insurance and eligibility for healthcare ranges between 60 and 80 hours a month.

“We fought for decades to win exceptional healthcare for our families. Now we are fighting for a wage that allows us to live in Los Angeles,” said Yesenia Reyes, a housekeeper at the Sheraton Gateway LAX. “Our selfish employers want us to choose between staying healthy and staying housed.  Meanwhile, hotel CEOs are celebrating record profits and I am balancing two full time jobs to take care of my kids.”

“Never have I seen a more punitive, draconian proposal than what these greedy hotel owners put across the table.  They are asking workers to choose between a meager pay raise and excellent healthcare,”  said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Our members who sacrificed everything to keep this industry alive during the pandemic have no choice but to walk out again.”

The Westin Bonaventure and BIltmore Los Angeles have signed agreements that guarantee a living wage and protect the workers.