LOS ANGELES — Hotel workers held their fourth round of rolling strikes here Aug. 3-7. Thousands of UNITE HERE Local 11 members struck at 26 of the 60 area hotels where union contracts had expired June 30. Area hotels are filled to capacity for the summer tourist season. In addition, pop star Taylor Swift’s Eras tour was holding six nights of sold-out concerts at the 70,000 seat SoFi Arena.
On Aug. 5, 300 strikers and supporters rallied in Santa Monica, marching from the Viceroy to the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.
Hotel workers and members of Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America — on strike against the production companies — have joined each other’s picket lines and received support from members of the teachers and nurses unions.
“They’ve been showing up for us and we’ve been showing up for them,” striking actor Demetri Belardinelli told the Financial Times. “That’s what makes this moment what it is — the cross-union solidarity.”
On Aug. 8 they were joined by over 11,000 Los Angeles municipal workers holding a one-day strike. These members of Service Employees International Union Local 721 include sanitation workers, custodians and other workers at Los Angeles International Airport, tugboat captains and many others.
As the hotel workers’ march assembled, a resident at a pricy condo next to the Viceroy cursed the strikers and threw water at them. Some unionists were wrestled to the ground by hotel security thugs at the Miramar when they stepped onto hotel property. After the scuffle, the strikers marched right up to the hotel entrance and circled in front. The police admitted the strikers had the right to do so.
At the E-Central Hotel picket line near downtown Aug. 4, Juliza Duran took time out from leading the chants to talk to the Militant. We first met Duran, a member of the union’s bargaining committee, when the union struck the hotel in early July.
“The hotels want us to accept a $6.25 raise over four and a half years. That’s nowhere near enough,” Duran said. “The bosses just walk out of the negotiations. They leave us sitting there.”
Workers are demanding a $13 an hour raise over the course of the contract, along with increases in pensions and health insurance and a more humane workload. They want the hotels to contribute to a housing fund for workers, given the soaring costs of living in Los Angeles, and to stop using E-verify, a Department of Homeland Security-operated data base used to prevent workers without U.S.-recognized papers from holding down jobs.
“When we strike, they bring in contract workers and give them free parking,” Duran said. With particularly galling disrespect, hotel bosses charge union workers who drive to work as much as $200 a month to park.
Duran showed us a screenshot of the hotel charging $1,200 per night when taxes are added in per room for this busy weekend! Six or more people cram into these rooms and share the cost, she said, “but the bosses don’t give us any more time to clean the rooms.”