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Five Santa Monica Hotels Targeted in Third Wave of Union Strikes

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By Jorge Casuso

August 4, 2023 -- Unite HERE Local 11 staged a third wave of strikes at dozens of Los Angeles area hotels on Friday -- including five in Santa Monica -- as negotiations with more than 40 hotels remain deadlocked.

The strikes come two and a half weeks after hotel representatives said their latest offer to immediately raise wages by $2 an hour was rejected by the union, which countered that the hotels did not offer additional money.

Unite HERE Local 11 is seeking an immediate $5 an hour raise for the workers, irregardless of their current salary, with an additional $3 an hour in subsequent years of the contract.

Since workers walked out at some 20 hotels over the Independence Day holidays, a total of 43 hotels have now been targeted during the largest hotel strikes in the nation, union officials said.

The five Santa Monica hotels targeted on Monday were the same five targeted during the first wave of walkouts -- the Fairmont Miramar, Le Meridien Delfina, Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn & Suites and Viceroy.

During the strikes, hotels have replaced cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen and front desk agents with temporary workers, most of them Black, union officials said.

"Last week, some hotels circulated a flier boasting that the strikes had not resulted in an 'agreement' or ‘the slightest concession’ from the hotels,” the officials said.

"The industry’s latest moves have infuriated workers across the industry and prompted them to return to the streets."

In addition to the strikes, over the past two weeks Unite HERE Local 11 has increased the pressure on the hotels -- both in the political and entertainment arenas.

Last week, they urged Taylor Swift to show her solidarity by canceling her six Los Angeles shows, which kicked off Thursday with a three and a half hour concert in Inglewood.

The union sent a letter signed by more than 50 California state officials arguing that hotels that have failed to sign new union contracts will benefit from the concerts.

"Hotels are set to receive millions of dollars in profit from her performances, while the workers who keep the hotels running struggle to stay housed," union officials said.

On Monday, dozens of "hotel housekeepers, allies and Swifties" tried to deliver the letter to the Santa Monica offices of Swift’s label, Republic Records, officials said.

The union is also urging hotel guests whose plans are affected by the strike to cancel their reservations or stays and ask for their money back.

"The hotels can end the strike and restore your comfort at any time by agreeing to the workers' demands for a living wage and fair work condition," the union said.

Unite HERE Local 11 also has filed two ballot measures with the Santa Monica City Clerk that would give union workers what they have failed to win at the bargaining table.

One measure -- filed on July 19 -- would require Santa Monica hotels to pay their workers at least $30 per hour, which would make it the highest minimum wage in the nation.

The initiative, however, would exempt union hotels by allowing the provisions to be waived in a bona fide collective bargaining agreement ("Hotel Union Submits Ballot Initiative for Country's Highest Minimum Wage," July 19, 2023).

The second measure, which was filed two weeks later, would impose a 7 percent bed tax on Santa Monica hotels and a 15 percent tax on home-shares and vacation rentals to create an affordable housing fund for hospitality workers.

If approved, the measure would raise the city's transient occupancy tax to 22 percent and the home share tax to 32 percent, by far the highest such taxes in the nation ("Hotel Workers Union Submits Bed Tax Initiative," August 1 2023).

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