Terranea Housekeepers Launch Voter Initiative for Fair Pay and Legal Protections Against Sexual Assault on International Women’s Day
Initiative would follow neighboring cities’ adoption of laws guaranteeing legal protections for housekeepers
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA: Today, Terranea Resort Housekeepers and their community allies launched a ballot initiative, the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, that would require hotels to provide fair compensation to hotel housekeepers and ensure legal protections for housekeepers from threatening conduct from guests when they work alone in guest rooms. The ordinance would require:
- Panic buttons with a security guard on call, mandatory training and security protocols to protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault and threatening conduct by guests and others
- Fair pay when hotel housekeepers are made to clean an excessive number of guest rooms
- A $25.00 minimum wage for hotel housekeepers and other hotel workers with an annual increase in wage to reflect the cost of living
In recent years, similar laws have gained traction and now protect housekeepers in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Glendale, West Hollywood, and, most recently, Irvine.
In November 2019, as reported by the LA Times, the Terranea Resort’s ownership contributed more than million dollars to defeat a similar ballot initiative which would have protected housekeepers—a group made up predominantly of immigrant women of color—in Rancho Palos Verdes. Undeterred, the resort’s housekeepers and their community allies are returning to finally win the legal rights they have been demanding for years.
“Across the tourism sector, we are seeing housekeeping workers being forced to take on even more burdensome workloads, even as business returns to pre-pandemic levels. RPV should follow the many other cities that have enacted laws guaranteeing housekeepers get fair pay for their work and protections against threatening conduct,” said Nico Gardner-Serna, a member of the Rancho Palos Verdes community.
In recent years, multiple women, including 2017 Time Person of the Year Sandra Pezqueda, have alleged they experienced sexual harassment and other misconduct while working at the Terranea Resort. The resort is owned by Lowe, led by Robert and Michael Lowe, and JC Resorts, which was recently accused of sexual harassment by women workers at a country club the firm manages.
“I felt there was no respect or protection of my rights at Terranea,” says Sandra Pezqueda. “Rancho Palos Verdes workers and community members know that we need to strengthen our laws to prevent abuse in the tourism industry.”
Community members and California NOW, the Feminist Majority, and the California Democratic Party have pledged to boycott the Terranea until women workers are treated with dignity and respect.
“The Terranea is a pariah. They spent more than a million dollars so that they would not be legally required to respect basic legal rights for their workers, many of whom are women. They used the pandemic to fire their employees, discarding them like they were disposable, even as their owners, like Robert J. Lowe, continue to amass wealth from the hotel,” stated Lorena Lopez, director at UNITE HERE Local 11. “This law would protect the welfare of housekeepers who make the owners of hotels like Terranea so wealthy.”
In April 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, Terranea fired most of its employees, including those who had worked at the hotel from its opening. Terranea workers led the fight to win SB-93—California’s right to return to work law—ensuring that the Terranea’s workers had a legal right to return to work at the hotel. The Office of the Labor Commissioner, led by Lilia Garcia-Brower, investigated complaints from workers alleging violations of the recall law. As reported by the LA Times, after the DLSE cited the company for allegedly violating the law, the Terranea agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to 53 workers laid-off at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic whom the agency alleged it had failed to recall, or timely recall.
UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union representing over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports