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Union Reaches Tentative Agreement with Santa Monica Hotel

By Jorge Casuso

November 20, 2023 -- The hotel workers union announced Monday that it has reached a tentative agreement with Le Merigot Hotel "after months of strikes across the industry."

The agreement with Le Merigot -- which is not one of the five Santa Monica hotels targeted by intermittent worker walkouts -- comes less than two years after the Merigot's current owners signed a union contract.

The new contract with Unite HERE Local 11 will provide "unprecedented wage increases that keep pace with the soaring cost of housing in Southern California" and "affordable, excellent family healthcare,"

Under the January 2022 agreement, workers at Le Merigot earned $25 an hour as of June 2023 and free family health insurance ("New Hotel Owner Signs Union Contract," January 10, 2022).

The new tentative agreement also will provide "humane workloads and safe staffing," "improved pension increases" and "historic Equal Justice language."

The Equal Justice language "will provide access to union jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and strong immigration protections," union officials said.

“I am thrilled about our new contract and what it will mean for me and my family,” Maria Espinoza, a laundry attendant for 19 years at Le Merigot, said in a statement Monday.

“I am pleased that we are the first workers in Santa Monica to reach an agreement, paving the way for our sisters and brothers at the other hotels in our city to do the same."

Le Merigot, at 1740 Ocean Avenue, is not among the five Santa Monica hotels represented by the Coordinated Bargaining Group negotiating on behalf of 44 union hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Those negotiations have remained deadlocked since April, prompting a wave of intermittent strikes that began during the 4th of July weekend.

The union is seeking an immediate $5 an hour raise for all union workers with an additional $3 an hour in subsequent years of the contract ("Five Santa Monica Hotels Targeted in Third Wave of Union Strikes," August 4, 2023).

The bargaining group has offered to increase the hourly wage by $2 per hour immediately after ratification and another $1 per hour on July 1, 2024.

In addition to the wage increases, the hotel union is seeking improved health care and pension benefits, which the bargaining group says would be secured for the next four years under its offer.

During the intermittent walkouts, hotels have replaced cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen and front desk agents with temporary workers, including "unhoused refugees," union officials said.

Last month, the LA County District Attorney's office said it will investigate the allegations made by the union against Le Meridien Delfina in Santa Monica and two hotels near LAX ("DA to Investigate Exploitation of Temp Hotel Workers," October 23, 2023).

Officials at Le Merigot -- which was bought in May 2021 by Stockdale Capital Partners -- lauded the tentative agreement with the union, which engaged in a five-year battle with the previous owners after workers voted to unionize in 2016.

“We value our staff tremendously, which this agreement reflects,” Le Merigot General Manager Jessica Rincon said in a statement. "And we are proud that we reached this agreement while maintaining a positive relationship with our employees."

Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11, also praised the tentative agreement, which must be ratified by the workers.

“We have now won standard-setting contracts in Downtown LA, Hollywood, Orange County, and Santa Monica," Petersen said. "There are no excuses for the rest. Workers deserve to share in the prosperity of the tourism industry.”

Like Le Merigot, the Biltmore and Bonaventure hotels in Los Angeles, have reach tentative agreements with the union.

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