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Miramar Hotel Workers Threaten to Strike
By Jorge Casuso
December 10, 2018 -- Workers at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica are threatening to strike over a list of demands that includes protections when the nearly century old hotel closes for redevelopment, union officials said.
The Miramar is one of 24 hotels across LA and Orange County negotiating with UNITE HERE Local 11 after 96 percent of its members voted last Thursday to authorize a strike.
"As tensions grow at the bargaining table, some of the Southland’s most prominent hotels could see work stoppages as early as December 12," officials said.
They listed the Miramar among the targeted hotels, but union officials said no protests are scheduled there on Wednesday.
“LA has one of the highest costs of living in the country, and our booming tourism industry can afford to pay its workers a living wage,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Local 11.
Union demands also include access to healthcare for seasonal workers and the installation of panic buttons in hotel rooms ("City to Draft Groundbreaking Ordinance Protecting Santa Monica Hotel Workers from Sexual Violence," October 26, 2018).
In addition to the demands at the other area hotels, the Union wants to Miramar to protect workers during the proposed redevelopment ("New Miramar Hotel Design Embraces Past, Present and Future of Santa Monica, Developers Say," April 12, 2018).
"We need to make sure their jobs and benefits are protected and that there's a reasonable severance," said Andrew Cohen, a spokesman for the union.
The union also wants workers to be assured seniority when they return, Cohen said.
Miramar officials did not return a request for comment by deadline.
The redevelopment plans by the Miramar's owner MSD Capital, L.P. accommodates 312 luxury hotel rooms and as many as 60 condominiums. It also preserves and upgrades the seven-story historic Palisades building, which has 100 rooms.
"Any one of these could become a sticking point," Cohen said of the five demands for the Miramar.
"These companies are doing extremely well, and the Miramar is the crown jewel of the hospitality industry" in the region, he said.
Workers at some the the hotels negotiating contracts have already staged protests "in a build-up to what has already become the largest series of hotel strikes in US history," union officials said.
Strikes at 20 hotels in ten U.S. cities have been carried out so far this year, with the strikes in San Francisco and Hawaii settled over the past two weeks, union officials said.
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