A union representing 15,000 workers at hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties is calling on its members to authorise a strike during the peak of the tourist season.
Unite Here Local 11 aims to use the strike vote, scheduled for 8 June to speed up sluggish negotiations and encourage hotel operators to seriously consider wage increases for their employees.
Contracts for 62 Southern California hotels, including renowned establishments like the Westin Bonaventure, the Fairmont Miramar, and the Beverly Wilshire, are set to expire on 30 June, prompting the union’s proactive stance.
Pressure mounts on tourism companies as contracts near expiration
Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, emphasised the importance of fairly compensating workers as Los Angeles prepares for a busy summer travel season and upcoming events such as the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Olympics.
With hotel company profits on the rise, Petersen stressed the need for workers to afford adequate housing.
Aside from hotels, the union plans to increase pressure on other tourism companies, including food operators at airports, stadiums, and resorts, whose contracts also expire on 30 June.
In total, over 20,000 Southern California tourism workers covered by approximately 100 contracts will participate in actions throughout the summer.
Unite Here Local 11 represents non-management hotel employees, including front desk clerks, housekeepers, and hotel restaurant workers. Major employers involved in negotiations with the union include Marriott International and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
During the initial bargaining session on 20 April the union presented proposals, including an immediate $5 hourly raise across the board. However, hotel companies have remained largely unresponsive, failing to provide counter proposals or make financial offers.
Lawyers representing a coalition of about a dozen hotels attended the third bargaining session, while hotel companies were absent from the second session.
Responses from involved parties
Michael D’Angelo, a vice president of labour relations at Hyatt, expressed disappointment in the union’s consideration of a strike.
He stated that Hyatt, along with other hotels in Los Angeles and Orange County, is committed to bargaining in good faith and believes that a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached without resorting to a strike.
Brenda Mendoza, a uniform attendant at JW Marriott in the L.A. Live entertainment district, shared her personal experience, highlighting the insufficient wages that prevent her from living in her hometown of Koreatown.
Mendoza’s situation exemplifies the struggle faced by many workers who are unable to afford housing in the areas where they work.
Implications beyond the hotel industry
The union’s strike authorisation vote occurs against the backdrop of concerns about worker protections for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. Labour advocacy groups, such as the Garment Worker Centre, have criticized city leaders for the lack of worker safeguards.
In April, they lobbied for last-minute changes to a rezoning plan to protect low-wage workers and small apparel businesses in the Fashion District.
Unite Here Local 11 has also been actively advocating for fair pay initiatives in various cities across California, including Los Angeles, Irvine, Santa Monica, and Long Beach.
The union recently filed an initiative in Culver City, seeking to establish a $25 hourly minimum wage and to safeguard room attendants against sexual assault. A similar ballot initiative was submitted in Rancho Palos Verdes in March, focusing on the workers at the Terranea Resort.