UNITE HERE Local 11 and Hospitality Training Academy Provide 1,100 Jobs
LOS ANGELES (March 3, 2021) — UNITE HERE Local 11 and Hospitality Training Academy’s “Serving Our Community” program prepared and delivered its three-millionth meal today. The milestone was celebrated at the LA Convention Center with City, County and State officials and representatives from UNITE HERE Local 11, Levy Restaurants, LA Convention Center, participating hotels, and the taxi and airport shuttle industry.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the program has employed 1,100 union and non-union workers in the hospitality, food service and taxi industries who were laid off due to the pandemic. With funding primarily from the City of Los Angeles and County of Los Angeles, the three million meals have served 10,000 homebound seniors, people experiencing homelessness and low-income families.
These meals are cooked in the industrial kitchens at Levy Restaurants at the Los Angeles Convention Center, JW Marriott LA LIVE, The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, Pomona College, Sheraton Grand LA and The Beverly Hilton, and then delivered by taxi cabs and airport shuttles.
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles
“COVID-19 has posed unprecedented and unpredictable challenges across our communities, but it’s also shown us the true meaning of the Angeleno spirit — a collection of compassionate, generous, determined individuals ready to step up and support our seniors and our neighbors in need. Progress is made through partnerships, and the City is proud to work hand-in-hand with UNITE HERE, the Hospitality Training Academy, and the Serving Our Community program to create jobs for our hospitality workforce and deliver high-quality meals to our hardest-hit residents throughout this pandemic.”
Allies Demand Independent Investigation and Justice on Six-Month Mark of LA Sheriffs’ Murder of Andres Guardado
Posada and Silent Caravan follow Action by Supervisors Exploring Options to Remove Sheriff Villanueva, and Sheriff’s Deputies Refusing to Cooperate in Coroner Investigation
Los Angeles, CA: On the six-month mark of Andres Guardado’s murder at the hands of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies, a coalition of civil rights and worker rights groups held a posada and silent car caravan to continue calls for an independent investigation and justice for the Guardado family.
Nearly a hundred cars participated in the socially distant procession which included costumed figures of angels, Joseph, and Mary, flower wreaths and large posters of Andres Guardado. The posada walkers were met on the corner of Grand and Temple with the lead car adorned by a wreath of flowers.
“My brother was a very bright student and a very good brother and son to my father and mother who did everything he could to provide for our family. I really hope there is justice in his name because what they did to him was unfair and no young man deserves what he got. We can’t bring him back so our pain will always be here but we demand justice and that would at least help our pain” said Jennifer Guardado, sister of Andres Guardado.
On June 18, while working as a security guard in Gardena, LASD deputies shot Guardado five times in the back, as reported by two independent autopsies. The eighteen-year-old had gotten the job to help provide for his family after his father, a hotel worker and UNITE HERE Local 11 member, was laid off due to COVID-19.
“When the deputies shot Andres they tore a hole in all of our flesh. When the deputies took Andres’s life, they stole a piece of all of our souls. When the Sheriff blocks an independent investigation of Andres’s killing, he violates all of our rights.” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Like others killed at the hands of law enforcement, Andres Guardado was not just a statistic. His family & our community deserve answers, not obstruction.”
LASD officials have thus far refused to cooperate with an independent investigation, stonewalling the Inspector General. Recently, a Sheriff’s deputy who shot Guardado and two other LASD detectives involved have refused to testify in the coroner’s inquest into Guardado’s killing, the first of its kind in 30 years, stating they will invoke the Fifth Amendment. In November, the Board of Supervisors directed County Counsel to explore ways to impeach and remove the sheriff.
The coalition has called for Villanueva’s immediate resignation. In response, the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission unanimously passed a “vote of no confidence” resolution also urging Villanueva’s resignation.
Lawsuit Forces Short-Term Rental Platform Out of L.A. Market
Citing lax public enforcement, activists vow more action to uphold city’s Home Sharing Ordinance
Los Angeles, CA: A short-term rental host and platform announced last week that it will stop offering short-term rentals in the City of Los Angeles. The announcement comes just days after residents filed the first lawsuit seeking to enforce the Los Angeles Home Sharing Ordinance.
“Synergy’s capitulation is a huge victory for laid-off hospitality workers, housing advocates, and neighborhood activists working to ensure Los Angeles enforces its existing regulations on short-term rentals,” said Randy Renick, partner at Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai. “It is the City Council’s responsibility to enforce the law, but we won’t let their failure keep us from taking action to protect our clients.”
Laid off hospitality workers filed their lawsuit against Synergy Global Housing LLC on December 1 alleging that the company is violating the city’s Home Sharing Ordinance that has been in effect since July 2019. Synergy is a member of CapitaLand, a real estate company headquartered and publicly traded in Singapore.
Los Angeles passed the Home-Sharing Ordinance to address an extreme shortage of affordable housing and the negative effects short-term rentals on the long-term housing market. The Ordinance strictly limits home sharing to primary residences and requires “hosts” of short-term rentals to register for a permit. It also prohibits “host platforms” from processing booking transactions for listings without a valid City Home Sharing registration number.
Better Neighbors LA released a review last week showing that the city’s poor enforcement of the Ordinance has left the city inundated with illegal short-term rentals. Despite the lack of enforcement, just last month the Los Angeles Planning Committee, led by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, voted 3–1 to move to the full council a massive loophole in the existing Home Sharing Ordinance. The proposed Vacation Rental Ordinance would allow nearly 15,000 additional short-term, Airbnb-type rental units in the city.
Community groups like Better Neighbors LA and UNITE HERE Local 11, who expect the Vacation Rental Ordinance to reach the full council for a vote in January, have been urging against the Vacation Rental Ordinance as L.A. renters face a possible eviction crisis because of the economic impact of COVID-19.
Concessionaire faces wage class action and a million-dollar bill for worker health insurance, while hundreds of airport workers remain laid off
Los Angeles, CA: Sixty laid off LAX workers took to their cars Thursday to caravan through the airport with horns, lights, and signs that say “HMS Host Pay Up.” The protest came ahead of a move by the airport authority Board of Airport Commission to grant the company a valuable lease extension. HMS Host has been the subject of controversy and criticism from its own employees in recent months.
“During the pandemic, HMS Host has repeatedly failed to live up to its most basic obligations towards its workers. When its workers needed them most, HMS Host turned its back,” said UNITE HERE Local 11 Director Robin Rodriguez.
This October, Host workers filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging it failed to pay wages they are owed under the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance, despite numerous complaints from employees. The still-pending lawsuit also alleges that Host also failed to comply with California labor laws requiring employers to pay final wages to terminated employees immediately.
Following worker complaints, the Los Angeles City Council voted down a financial package for HMS Host estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars in lease extension-related revenue and rent relief.
Workers are now drawing attention to HMS Host’s alleged failure to make healthcare contributions to help maintain health care coverage for its laid-off workers. A health benefit fund covering its employees has informed HMS Host that it is delinquent in paying more than a million dollars in benefit contributions required under a City rent relief program for airport concessionaires.
“My family and I have had to make many sacrifices during this pandemic to make ends meet and it scares me to think I could lose my healthcare if HMS Host does not pay up what it should,” said Carlos Castillo, a bartender at HMS Host at LAX for 21 years.
HMS Host is the largest operator of airport concessions in North America and at LAX. Its parent company, Autogrill, is owned by a family of Italian multi-billionaires whose holding corporation had assets valued at $13.8 billion last year.
HMS Host workers at LAX are over 90% people of color (including over 20% Black) and live in the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of its LAX workforce remains laid off.
On September 3, 2020, dozens of predominantly black and brown front-line airport workers staged a “die-in” inside the Tom Bradley Terminal in LAX calling for the need to extend healthcare for laid-off airport workers during the pandemic. The theatrical action coincided with a meeting of LAWA, the airport’s governing body. Workers are calling upon LAWA to ensure that part of any rent relief for concessionaires is passed on to workers through extended healthcare coverage.