Around 15,000 hotel workers in the state of California have gone on strike, demanding higher wages and improved benefits. The labor stoppage, which began on Sunday, is considered to be the largest multi-hotel strike in the history of the union representing the hotel workers, UNITE HERE Local 11. The union is advocating for better wages, healthcare benefits, pensions, and safer workloads for its members, which include bellhops, front desk agents, and room attendants.
One of the main concerns for the workers is the soaring housing costs in California. To address this issue, the union has requested an immediate $5 increase in hourly wages. However, employers have accused the labor movement of being unwilling to negotiate regarding its demands.
Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, expressed his disappointment, stating, “Our members were devastated first by the pandemic, and now by the greed of their bosses. The industry got bailouts while we got cuts.” The union had previously conducted a vote to authorize the strike.
In response to the strike, Keith Grossman, a spokesperson representing 44 of the affected businesses, reassured the public that hotels are fully prepared to continue operating and will take care of the guests for the duration of the disruption. However, more than 60 hotels have been impacted by the strike, affecting about half of the 32,000 workers represented by the union in the state.
The timing of the strike coincides with the busy 4th of July holiday celebrations in the United States and a major anime convention in Los Angeles, which has attracted a significant number of visitors to the city. In a message on its website, the union requested that guests refrain from eating, sleeping, or holding meetings at the hotels involved in the strike.
This strike adds to a series of industrial actions that have recently taken place in California. In May, the Writers Guild of America initiated a strike that has had significant repercussions on the television and film industry in the state and beyond. Furthermore, strikes by workers, including bus drivers, custodians, and schoolteachers, have led to the temporary shutdown of a Los Angeles school district and disruptions in Oakland.
The impact of the hotel worker strike is expected to be felt significantly during the busy holiday season. Hotels have hired temporary workers to cover for absentee staff; however, accommodating guests may pose a challenge. The continuation of the strike will depend on the negotiations between the union and employers, which will determine whether the workers’ demands are met sufficiently.
As the strike unfolds, the union urges visitors and the public to support their cause by refraining from patronizing the affected hotels. The outcome of this labor stoppage will have implications not only for the hotel industry but also for the broader labor movement in California.