Workers at Irvine Hilton, Anaheim Hilton and Sheraton Park in Orange County and hotels in Los Angeles walked off the job at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning as part of a second round of strikes for better pay.
Amid stalled contract negotiations, unionized hotel workers across Southern California are demanding $5 an hour more the first year of their new agreement followed by a $3 bump in their second and third year to help cover rising housing costs.
“I am on strike because I welcome hundreds of guests into Anaheim everyday, but I still cannot afford to retire or provide for my family, even though we know the industry is booming,” said Elizabeth Galindo, housekeeper at the Anaheim Hilton in a Tuesday news release.
“We are proud to join our sisters and brothers in Los Angeles on strike.”
The first round of strikes in the region kicked off just days before the July 4th holiday.
Ada Briceño, co-president of Unite Here Local 11 – the union representing the workers – said in a Tuesday phone interview that workers at 32 hotels in the region have walked out in the first two rounds of strikes and more are expected to follow.
“It is important for this industry to understand that the workers are the backbone of the hotel. And they have seen the difficulty already in 32 hotels, of what it’s like to operate without the backbone,” she said.
“We need to ensure that workers can put a roof over their heads.”
The Coordinated Bargaining Group, which represents 44 hotels in LA and OC, said in a Monday news release that they have offered to meet with Union representatives on July 14 and July 18 to resume negotiations.
“It’s been clear from Day One that Local 11 only wanted to strike and was not focused on the interests of our employees or the City. We offered dates because we want to meet and make progress toward a contract settlement,” said Keith Grossman, spokesperson for the group in the news release.
“The Union did not give the Coordinated Bargaining Group a response. Instead, they chose to strike.”
The hotelier group argues the union has not negotiated in good faith and are pushing for terms that have nothing to do with hotel employees like a 7% tax on hotel guests.
Union representatives say the tax revenue would be used for a housing fund to develop affordable homes for workers.
Days before the first strike, the group filed unfair labor practices charges against Unite Here 11.
Hoteliers have offered wage increases of $2.50 per hour in the first 12 months and $6.25 over 4 years as well as and increases of up to $1.50 per hour for healthcare benefits over 4 years.
Briceño said California Attorney General Rob Bonta is expected to join workers in Anaheim on the picket line around 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The strike comes after an Irvine Hilton worker filed a lawsuit against the hotel for allegedly violating the city’s recently adopted hotel worker protection ordinance.
And after city councilmembers in Anaheim – home to the Disneyland resort – called for a $1.6 million special election to vote on a ballot measure, proposed by Unite Here, that would bump the minimum wage for hotel workers to $25 an hour.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
Since you’ve made it this far,
You obviously care about local news and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford, but it’s not free to produce. Help us become 100% reader funded with a tax deductible donation. For as little as $5 a month you can help us reach that goal.