The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to establish the highest minimum wage in the country. And members of UNITE HERE Local 11 were key players in winning this fight. Sí se pudo!

UNITE HERE Local 11 Leads Fight As West Hollywood City Council Approves Highest Minimum Wage in the Country

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

Kurt Petersen on the West Hollywood Vote

Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen talks about the historical West Hollywood Hotel Worker Ordinance

West Hollywood Hotel Worker Ordinance Vote

Hotel workers and community allies in West Hollywood took to the street on the eve of the Hotel Worker Ordinance Vote.

WeHo Hotel Workers and Allies March to City Hall to Demand Immediate Action

After the City Council and City Manager discussed postponement of hotel worker protection policy during Monday’s Council meeting, workers and allies deliver petition to City Hall with 100 worker signatures in support of protection ordinance 

West Hollywood, CA: Over 30 workers and community allies, including a representative from the Stonewall Democratic Club and West Hollywood residents, marched to City Hall to deliver a petition in support of the anticipated hotel worker protection policy after a delay in the vote was announced during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

“I worked at the Standard for 16 years, and I still have no idea if I will be recalled back to work. Why would the city delay this?” said Sandra Pellecer, a former cook at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, as she attempted to deliver the petition with 100 worker signatures to City Hall.

The policy is aimed at ensuring workers in the hotel industry, many of whom have dedicated decades of service to the industry, have jobs to return to as the economy reopens. The policy will also contain a series of measures to address the constellation of industry-wide problems that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as sexual assault, inadequate compensation for heavy workloads, and the lack of comprehensive, standardized training.

With the industry scheduled to reopen in less than a week, dozens of laid off hotel workers urged the City to bring the ordinance to a vote as soon as possible.

“We need to know that we will return to jobs where we have enough time to clean rooms thoroughly,” said Norma Hernandez, a room attendant who worked at the Mondrian for 12 years. “Before I was laid off, I would clean 12 rooms in a day. I was constantly racing against the clock to finish my assignment, and would even go without water to avoid bathroom breaks to save time. We need to be compensated fairly for this work if we are recalled.”

Similar worker retention ordinances have been passed in many cities across the region, including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, and Los Angeles County. In 2019, the city of Santa Monica passed a historic Housekeeper Bill of Rights with similar panic button, workload compensation, training, and worker retention measures. Santa Monica also passed right of recall in the wake of 9/11.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, 95% of hotel workers were laid off, most left without healthcare or job security, and many after decades in the industry. Workers in the hotel industry are overwhelmingly immigrants and women of color, some of the hardest hit amid the pandemic.

The policy would ensure that hotel workers are a part of a just economic recovery for West Hollywood.