Thousands of Workers, Including UNITE HERE Local 11 Members, Rally to Demand Livable Wages Amid Housing Crisis

Los Angeles: Room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, food service workers, event center, and front desk agents continued the call for livable wages and better benefits this evening as they prepare to begin their fight for a fair new contract this summer. Nearly 200,000 workers are represented by the unions who rallied in Downtown Los Angeles to amplify the shared need for wages that allow workers to live in the communities they work.

Since the pandemic, the region’s largest economic engine—the tourism industry—has celebrated record profits while hospitality workers are overworked, fighting to stay housed and alive.

“I was priced out of my community in Los Angeles,” said Brenda Mendoza, a UNITE HERE Local 11 uniform attendant at the JW Marriott. “Now, I get a few hours of sleep every night and spend 4 hours a day driving on dangerous roads between my home in Apple Valley and my hotel job in Downtown LA.”

UNITE HERE Local 11 has lined up over 100 contracts to expire this year, with the goal to lift the low standards of hospitality workers amid a major housing crisis. The typical housekeeper wage in LA is $18.86 per hour—not enough to live in LA whether single or supporting a family. On top of that, the city is preparing to welcome millions of guests for the World Cup (2026) and the Olympics (2028). Local 11 intends to ensure that the residents of Los Angeles who put their sweat and tears into maintaining the city’s tourism industry are provided with wages that allow them to secure housing.

“When half of our members have been forced to move or will have to move while the tourism industry boasts record profits, something is very wrong with the system,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “We are prepared to do whatever it takes to get workers wages that can secure local housing.”

At Universal Studios Hollywood, UNITE HERE Local 11 has joined in solidarity with IATSE B-192 to negotiate fair contracts for the 5,000 workers represented by both unions at the theme park.

“Two thirds of Local 11 and IATSE B-192 members at Universal Studios Hollywood earn around minimum wage while NBCUniversal boasts record profits,” said Susan Minato, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “As a result, many workers have experienced homelessness.”

“My wages are so low that I had to choose between buying a car and housing,” said Universal Studios Hollywood worker Chris Lillian, who has worked as a food stand attendant for 4 years. “Without my friend who generously rents out his spare room to me, I would be homeless.”

Local 11 is coming together with other unions whose contracts are expiring this year to ensure workers receive their fair share and housing security in the prosperous city of Los Angeles. Workers invited the CA Democrats to join them in demanding what they need to live in the city they work in: fair pay that accounts for rising rent, pension, healthcare, and humane workloads.