Strike Could Affect Hotels All Over Los Angeles and Santa Monica
By Dolores Quintana
UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents thousands of hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona, is considering a strike that could affect hotels all over the Los Angeles area, including several Santa Monica hotels, including Fairmont Miramar, Viceroy, Delfina, Le Merigot, Proper, Hampton Inn, and Courtyard Marriott hotels. The potential strike, which could involve more than 14,000 workers across dozens of hotels, has the potential to be one of the most significant hotel workers’ actions in the modern history of the US hotel industry. Hotels in Westwood, such as the W Westwood, Century City, Fairmont Century Plaza, Beverly Hills, the Four Seasons Regent Beverly Wilshire and Waldorf Astoria, and Beverly Hilton, among others, could be affected.
One of the largest hotels in Los Angeles, The Westin Bonaventure, has already reached an agreement on June 29, a day before the contracts expire, that covers the 600 union workers at the hotel. In a press statement, Nancy Cerrato, general clean public areas, housekeeping department, said, “With these extraordinary raises, I will no longer have to choose between paying my rent and putting food on the table for my family. We have given our lives to this industry. We deserve respect and to afford to live in the city where we work.”
The Unite Local 11 contracts expire at midnight on June 30. Since their members have voted to authorize a strike, the union’s leadership could call for a strike on the July 4th weekend.
According to UNITE HERE’s press release, despite hotels receiving $15 billion in federal bailouts during the pandemic and experiencing a surge in profits, hospitality workers continue to face challenges affording housing in the cities where they work. UNITE HERE Local 11’s key demands include an immediate $5 hourly wage increase to address the escalating cost of housing, affordable family healthcare, a secure pension plan, and a safe workload.
A recent survey conducted by the union revealed that 53% of workers have either moved in the past five years or are planning to move soon due to the soaring housing costs. In response to failed negotiations with major hotel employers such as Hyatt, Hilton, Highgate, Accor, IHG, and Marriott, UNITE HERE Local 11 members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, with 96% supporting the action.
Brenda Mendoza, a uniform attendant at the JW Marriott LA Live, expressed her support for the potential strike, stating, “I voted yes to strike because I commute two hours from my home in Apple Valley to downtown Los Angeles. I deserve to make enough money to live near where I work.”
Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11, criticized the industry for exploiting the pandemic while workers struggle to afford basic living expenses. He stated, “[The] 96% vote to authorize a strike sends a clear message to the industry that workers have reached their limit and are prepared to strike to secure a living wage.”
As Southern California prepares to host the back-to-back FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the Olympics in 2028, UNITE HERE Local 11’s press statement calls for industry and political leaders to address the housing crisis and transform tourism jobs into family-sustaining positions. The union’s goal is to ensure that these mega sports events do not exacerbate housing affordability issues and leave workers struggling to make ends meet in the future.