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Southern California hotel workers rally and strike for higher wages

By Hannah Keith

Hotel workers on strike in downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, CA – 14,000 hotel workers in Southern California went on strike at 19 hotels in Long Beach, Santa Monica, downtown Los Angeles and North Hollywood on July 2. The strike was planned to last three days covering the July 4 holiday. Union members say if their demands are not met, more strikes will happen.

Last week, in the face of a strike, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites agreed to a contract, and the workers won their demands. Now the workers at other hotels are looking to replicate their success. The workers are organized with UNITE HERE Local 11, and their contract expired at midnight on Friday, June 30. Now the workers are demanding a raise of $5 per hour, pension reform and increases to the number of staff the hotels have.

One worker, Vanessa Avendano, has worked at a Marriot hotel in downtown Los Angeles for 17 years and is hoping to retire. She said “We need a contract that is fair. This company knows what we want, and they don’t want to give it to us, that’s why we’re here on strike.”

On July 4, the striking workers convened in front of the Ritz Carlton for a protest, chanting “If we don’t get it, shut it down!” Speakers at the rally demanded that the companies go back to the bargaining table and negotiate with them in good faith.

The July 4 rally was attended in solidarity with members from other Los Angeles area unions like SEIU 99 and Teamsters 396 and 952. It was the final action planned before the workers return to their jobs on July 5, but if the companies continue to ignore workers’ demands, the union workers say they will continue to fight for what they deserve.

#LosAngelesCA #UniteHere