UNITE HERE Local 11 has been a leader in the fight for immigrant rights, and to elect leaders who will represent working families’ interests. Notably, in 2020, Local 11 ran the largest single canvass in Arizona, winning the state for the pro-labor presidential and senate candidates.
In December 2020 Local 11 sent more than 300 leaders to Georgia to join a coalition to campaign for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, winning two senate seats for the Democrats and ensuring that President Biden will have a majority in the Senate to enact policies to support working families.
BREAKING NEWS: 11/04/2021
West Hollywood: Just past midnight, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to establish a citywide minimum wage of $17.64, including 96 hours of paid sick leave and other benefits. While this measure aligns West Hollywood hotel workers with those in Santa Monica and Los Angeles who have earned $17.64 since July of this year, the wage increase for workers in all other industries is unprecedented.
“Our union is proud to have led the fight to pass a living wage in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and now West Hollywood. Workers across all industries, especially in hotels who have been hardest hit by the pandemic deserve a living wage. Tonight’s council vote is proof of the bold leadership and action needed to ensure workers recover from the effects of this pandemic,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.
This victory is a culmination of an effort that UNITE HERE Local 11, Councilmember Horvath and then Councilmember Heilman started back in 2016 to raise the citywide minimum wage to $15, which failed on a 2-3 vote.
“Having a living wage will not only help me and my co-workers, but every single worker in the city of West Hollywood. I know that with the current wages, we cannot live in the city we’ve helped build,” said Norma Hernandez, a housekeeper at the Mondrian Hotel. “Thank you for passing this living wage and ensuring that workers like me can be a part of this city’s recovery.”
This is the second time since July, the West Hollywood City Council has voted to stand with workers hit hardest by the pandemic. Following efforts by UNITE HERE Local 11 and after hearing from hotel workers across the city, the council approved one of the most progressive hotel worker protection laws in the country ensuring fair compensation for heavy workloads, right of recall, training, and panic buttons for all hotel workers
UNITE HERE Local 11 represents 32,000 workers in hotels, airports, restaurants, universities and stadiums across Southern California and Arizona. Our members called voters and knocked on their doors to inspire our community to vote NO on the anti-union, anti-woman, and anti-worker recall. These are the same housekeepers, dishwashers, and cooks who led the fight to turn Arizona and Georgia blue in 2020. Our members are committed to upholding our democracy and look forward to continuing to advocate for policies that will uplift all workers alongside Governor Newsom. Si se puede!
UNITE HERE Local 11
Ada Briceño, co-president
Susan Minato, co-president
Kurt Petersen, co-president
This past June, 200 members of UNITE HERE Local 11 and allies took a week-long Freedom Ride for Voting Rights from Phoenix to Washington, DC, to tell Congress to pass the For The People Act. Here are their stories.
On August 2, days before the 56th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, UNITE HERE joined the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival national rally and march to combat voter suppression laws. More than 85 UNITE HERE members joined hundreds of allies in a march from Union Plaza to the U.S. Capitol where they participated in a nonviolent act of civil disobedience. Just as the 1960s Freedom Rides escalated to nonviolent direct action, UNITE HERE built upon the June 2021 Freedom Ride for Voting Rights by returning to Washington, D.C.
Since the 2020 elections, hundreds of anti-voter bills have been introduced in states across the country. Hospitality workers are fighting back to demand that Congress stand up for democracy and end the filibuster, pass all provisions of the For the People Act, fully restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and offer permanent protections, dignity, and respect for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“Poor people and workers have always had to fight for our rights on and off the job,” said D. Taylor, UNITE HERE International Union President. “This is about working people fighting to defend true democracy where all voices are heard. We are standing on the shoulders of civil rights and labor leaders who sacrificed their lives so we could be here today.”
From the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to this summer’s mobilizations, the civil rights and labor movements have been linked historically in our collective struggle for better pay and equal rights for people of color. Union jobs are crucial to move working people out of poverty and have our communities thrive, not just survive.
Despite facing over 98% layoff rates at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNITE HERE members knocked on 3 million doors in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Then, laid-off hospitality workers joined the team that turned Georgia blue to help deliver come-from-behind wins and Take Back the Senate in the January 2021 Georgia Senate runoff.
“The right to vote is directly rooted in our fight for racial justice. As a Black woman and union member I know the struggle to demand dignity and respect for myself and my community, said Tembi Hove, Banquet Server at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta and canvasser during the Georgia Senate runoff elections. “Despite being laid off during COVID-19, I canvassed to get out the vote. I won’t allow my rights to get stripped away. This is our moment to unite against unjust laws that are putting a direct threat on our lives and livelihoods.”
UNITE HERE is taking action with the Poor People’s Campaign because workers will be treated as disposable unless we have real power. Housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers, and food service workers from across the country are fighting back because we are the working people, women, people of color, and immigrants who will be most impacted by voter suppression laws.