Statement by Laura Garza, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from California, July 5.
The confidence and determination shown by striking Los Angeles hotel workers is a boost to the entire labor movement.
Thousands-strong, UNITE HERE Local 11 members walked off the job to fight insufficient wages and unlivable schedules and conditions that tens of millions of fellow workers share. Their fight is in the interests of all workers. Alongside efforts to win much-needed solidarity, their fight poses questions about the broader program unions need to advance to protect workers and our families from the crushing impact of today’s capitalist crisis.
Hotel bosses are determined to preserve their profits at the expense of workers. They do so by tearing away at the ability of workers to form and provide for their families. They seek to impose lower wages and cut down health care and pensions. After slashing the workforce during the pandemic, they’ve refused to hire as bookings have grown, dumping more and more work on fewer workers. The final indignity is demanding workers pay $200 a month for the “privilege” of parking at the hotel!
The hotel workers are saying, “No!” They’re fighting to unify all the workers, demanding bosses quit using E-Verify, the government database they use to threaten the jobs of workers without papers. This is an example for the entire labor movement!
A significant majority of the strikers are women, many single parents. Like workers everywhere they face rising costs of child care and everything else their families need. Fewer young workers can afford to move out and get a place of their own. Many strikers have to take on a second, or third job, leaving little time for family life, recreation or activity in the union or working-class political action.
These conditions are shared by working people everywhere. The birth rate is falling, life expectancy is shrinking. The labor movement needs to champion demands that allow working people to feed and clothe our families and have a full life as well. For cost-of-living adjustments in all wages and benefits so that our wages automatically rise every time prices go up. For 30-hours work for 40-hours pay to spread the available work around and prevent layoffs. These demands are central to prevent bosses offloading more of the crisis onto our backs and deepening divisions in the working class.
Millions need to supplement their incomes. Not by taking two or three jobs or relying on demeaning welfare programs that exclude working. All working people need an income that makes it possible to keep our jobs while meeting the needs of our families, while the labor movement fights for universal child care and medical care. An income that allows workers to stay in the workforce and be part of union struggles.
Hotel workers are proud their union is demanding an end to bosses’ use of E-Verify to target immigrant workers. Our unions need to fight for amnesty for the 11 million-plus undocumented workers in the U.S. This would help unify working people, strengthen our unions and inspire organizing the unorganized.
This program is also at the center of the fight for women’s emancipation — a struggle that is indispensable to charting a working-class road forward.