Southern California: This morning, thousands more cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen, and front desk agents at multiple properties walked out on the second wave of the largest multi-hotel strike in Southern California’s history.
“I am on strike because as a mom I will do anything to keep a roof over my kids’ heads. Rent is soaring but wages are not. The industry is booming. They need to share with us who make them prosperous,” said Lilia Sotelo Housekeeper at the Sheraton Gateway
The second wave of strikes came after thousands of hotel workers in 21 hotels struck for three days during the 4th of July weekend in Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. So far, of the 60 properties with nearly 15,000 hotel workers whose contracts expired at the end of June, only the Westin Bonaventure has reached an agreement with UNITE HERE Local 11 that provides a living wage and other benefits.
“No worker should have to sleep in their car between shifts because they cannot afford to live in Los Angeles. Workers are striking because they believe that all workers in this city – whether you teach, write, act, or clean hotel rooms – deserve a wage that allows them to live with dignity in Los Angeles. The hotel industry is flush with cash. Room rates are soaring. The industry’s greed makes workers unable to live in the city where they work.” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.
On June 8, hotel workers voted 96% in favor of authorizing a strike. The union is seeking to create a hospitality workforce housing fund, in addition to better wages, healthcare benefits, pension and safer workloads. In a UNITE HERE Local 11 survey, 53% of workers said that they either have moved in the past 5 years or will move in the near future because of soaring housing costs. Hotel workers report commuting hours from areas like Apple Valley, Palmdale, California City and Victorville.
During the pandemic, hotels received $15 billion in federal bailouts and cut jobs and guest services such as daily room cleaning. In 2023, hotel profits in Los Angeles and Orange County exceeded pre-pandemic levels, yet hospitality workers continue to struggle to afford a place to live in the cities where they work.
Southern California will be the first region ever to host back-to-back the FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the Olympics in 2028. In recent decades, these mega sports events have left local governments indebted for years and have permanently displaced millions of poor residents.