Southern California’s hotel worker strike rolls to new spots

An ongoing strike by Southern California hotel workers enveloped the Beverly Hilton, longtime host of the annual Golden Globe Awards, and the upscale Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills early Monday morning.

It marks the latest escalation of a heated labor dispute between thousands of cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, servers, bellmen, and front desk agents represented by Unite Here Local 11 and some 60 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Workers at the Fairmont Century Plaza, Hyatt Regency LAX, and Laguna Cliffs Marriott also went on strike Monday, extending the footprint of the “third wave” of work stoppages that began July 20.

The current wave follows tense bargaining talks last week.

The picketing hotel workers have said their pay hasn’t kept pace with soaring housing costs, and as a result, many have been displaced from neighborhoods near their workplaces and forced into long commutes. To remedy that, they are asking for higher wages and better benefits and working conditions. The union has proposed a $5 immediate hourly wage increase, and a $3 boost each subsequent year of the three-year contract, for a total raise of $11.

During last week’s negotiations, a hotel industry group introduced a new contract proposal. Keith Grossman, an attorney representing a coalition of 44 Southern California hotels, said that the proposal represented an improved wage offer, but it was rejected by the union.

Workers at 43 hotels have participated in the strike so far, the union said, walking off the job in intermittent few-day spurts ever since the July Fourth holiday weekend. Overall, some 15,000 hotel workers covered by contracts that expired June 30 are affected.

The constantly shifting nature of the strike action can make it difficult to keep track of what’s going on.

No party involved is unscathed.

Some hotels involved in the dispute have lost business, as major conferences have canceled and moved to union-approved locations. The union has accused hotels of strike-breaking by bringing in “scab” workers using third party gig-work apps.

Early morning picket lines have provoked noise complaints from guests and there have been reports of passersby throwing eggs and pouring cups of pee on picketing workers.

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