Striking Southern California hotel workers demanding greater pay are increasingly facing violence on the picket line.

Now Unite Here Local 11, the union representing the workers, are filing unfair labor practice charges against a group which represents over 40 hotels in Los Angeles in Orange County alleging a pattern of violence against striking workers on at least three work sites, according to a Monday press release.

Ada Briceño, co-president of the union, said that they filed the charges to the National Labor Relations Board because workers have a right to picket.

“It’s just ridiculous, we’re seeing this wave of violence come out that our members are experiencing,” she said in a Monday phone interview. “It’s wrong for the employers to want to break our strike.” 

Briceño said even in the face of violence workers are unwavering in their commitment to get a better contract.

“We’re not letting up until we win,” she said.

Briceño pointed to workers at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Hotel in Dana Point allegedly being assaulted, threatened and having their property destroyed and to the hotel’s celebrity chef John Tesar breaking a worker’s drum and insulting them.

According to the filing, the violence at Laguna Cliff took place in July.

Tesar and Hotel representatives have yet to respond to Tuesday requests for comment.

Workers were attacked and tackled by security guards in Santa Monica on Saturday at the Fairmont Miramar and in Long Beach at the Maya hotel, security guards tried to relocate workers on strike using a chain link fence.

The union has posted footage of workers being attacked on their X account – the social media platform formally known as Twitter.

Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the California Hotel and Lodging Association, said in an emailed statement Monday that union representatives are blaring sirens at “odd hours” which he said poses a safety risk and that workers are kicking over barriers.

“Hotels have made law enforcement as well as the Mayor’s office aware of these increasingly aggressive actions by picketers aimed at guests, employees and our communities. We’ve asked that the police take concrete steps to ensure the safety of all. Safety is always our number one priority,” he wrote.

The violence comes about a month after the first round of strikes in the region kicked off just days before the July 4th holiday with workers pushing for better pay.

[Read: Southern California Hotel Workers Go on Strike For Better Pay]

Unionized hotel workers are calling for $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.

Keith Grossman, a spokesman for the Coordinated Bargaining Group which represents 44 hotels in LA and OC, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

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.

The group has argued the union is pushing for terms that have nothing to do with hotel employees and are not negotiating in good faith leading the Coordinated Bargaining Group to file their own unfair labor practices charges against Unite Here 11 at the end of June.

Prior to the strikes, Diane Nufio, a hotel maid in Irvine filed a class action lawsuit against the Irvine Hilton for allegedly violating the city’s adopted hotel worker protection ordinance that went into effect in December.

And city councilmembers in Anaheim – home to the Disneyland resort – called for a $1.6 million special election for residents to vote on a similar ordinance, proposed by Unite Here, that would bump the minimum wage for hotel workers to $25 an hour.

A majority of Anaheim city council members – whose campaigns were backed heavily by money from resort interests – hoteliers and Anaheim Chamber of Commerce CEO Laura Cunningham have publicly opposed the ordinance.

They argue it would drive up prices and hinder the resort industry’s success. 

Workers argue the increase in pay will help them pay rent amid rising housing costs across the state.

Meanwhile, the city faces renewed resident pressure after an independent corruption investigation Anaheim city hall dropped last week with investigators alleging Disneyland area resort interests improperly steered city hall policymaking. 

[Read: Anaheim’s Own Look at City Hall Finds Disneyland Resort Businesses Improperly Steer Policymaking]

OC Supervisor Vicente Sarmiento, whose district encompasses Anaheim, called on city council members to support hotel workers as they push for a living wage saying it would help restore public trust amid the fallout from the independent corruption probe.

“I am hopeful,” he wrote in a statement on Facebook. “That uplifting workers and prioritizing voices in the community is a good start to rebuilding their trust in local government.” 

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.


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