Hotel workers at LAX-area properties walk off the job over healthcare proposal
In the latest wave of Southern California’s rolling hotel strike, workers at eight properties near Los Angeles International Airport walked off the job Friday morning.
The hotels include Four Points by Sheraton, Sheraton Gateway, Hyatt Regency LAX Airport and Westin Los Angeles Airport Inn. Friday’s work stoppage came in response to a tense bargaining session Wednesday between a group of Southern California hotels and Unite Here Local 11.
Unite Here Local 11 represents about 15,000 cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, servers, porters and front desk agents at some 60 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties who have been conducting intermittent strikes over the last three months.
The union rejected an offer of major pay boosts and pension contributions that represented “a serious effort to jump start the stalled negotiations,” said Keith Grossman, an attorney representing a group of more than 40 Southern California hotel owners and operators, in a news release Thursday.
The hotel group’s offer included an immediate $2.50 hourly pay increase that would rise to a total of $4 within the first nine months of the contract, he said. In total, hotels proposed $9 in increases over the course of a six-year contract for many L.A. hotels. The offer, however, would amount to $8.05 in total hourly pay boosts for workers at Orange County, LAX-area and Long Beach hotels.
The hotel strike is hitting consumers harder than any other during Los Angeles’ labor summer, bringing complaints, a disrupted wedding and violence.
The six-year length of the proposal is aimed to ensure “long-term labor peace” allowing customers to book hotels for upcoming major tourism events in L.A., including the World Cup and the Olympics,” Grossman said.
But the union said that in talks, hotels offered unacceptable healthcare contributions. The hotel group proposed a 1% annual increase to its healthcare contribution, or one-sixth of projected healthcare cost increases, the union said in a news release Friday.
“Never have I seen a more punitive, draconian proposal than what these greedy hotel owners put across the table. They are asking workers to choose between a meager pay raise and excellent healthcare,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, in the release. “Our members who sacrificed everything to keep this industry alive during the pandemic have no choice but to walk out again.”
Unite Here Local 11 has been demanding across-the-board wage increases given how deeply California’s housing crisis affects its members. The union initially proposed a $5 immediate hourly wage increase and a $3 boost each subsequent year of a three-year contract, for a total raise of $11 an hour.
At a bargaining session Sept. 21, the union slightly lowered that proposal, bringing the $11 total raise to $10.50.
The walkout by Local 11 of Unite Here is affecting about 20 hotels. Although they are staying open, their guests can expect the hotels to be noisier and possibly trim the amenities.
The union has reached tentative agreements with management at two hotels: the Westin Bonaventure and the Biltmore Los Angeles, both in downtown Los Angeles. Terms of those agreements haven’t been released. The union is calling for a boycott of all the Southern California hotels that haven’t reached agreements for new contracts.
Hotel industry representatives have said the boycott and strike are hurting a key business in Southern California.
These are the hotels involved in Friday’s walkout: