LOS ANGELES — Last week, hotel companies like the Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott presented a new economic proposal amid waves of strikes by hotel workers. After the groups failed to negotiate an increase in wages for their employees, thousands of workers once again walked out in a third wave as part of the largest hotel strike California has seen to date.
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The strikes come at a significant time in the United States, where labor movements from the Writers Guild of America to SAG-AFTRA continue to mobilize in different states. Now, UPS workers nationally are on the brink of joining “Hot Labor Summer,” as this year’s wave of strikes has been dubbed, if they do not succeed in contract negotiations by the end of July.
At Andaz West Hollywood and 1 Hotel West Hollywood, bellboys, front desk workers and housekeepers gathered outside in protest. Making their way down Sunset Boulevard with bullhorns and clanging pans, they marched in solidarity to demand an increase in pay and benefits.
Latino Rebels caught up with some of the striking hotel workers to learn what brought them out to the picket lines.
Morena Guadalupe Hernández, 56, chambermaid, Andaz Hotel West Hollywood:
“They are taking advantage of us. We are just asking for what we deserve—our stability, our retirement, all the benefits we deserve, and more than anything else, respect. We suffered in the pandemic, even more in these hotels where there were no safety measures for us.
“What people have to realize is how they treat us. This does not happen every day, this is not every month, this is just every three years. So the union got ready, asked them in good faith to start negotiations early, but they didn’t want that. They don’t want that.”
David Stookey, 31, front desk agent, 1 Hotel West Hollywood:
“We’re out here because we have been struggling, at least I have, for over a year with post-pandemic staffing, but pre-pandemic level of occupancy. A lot of our coworkers can’t even afford to live in West Hollywood or in Hollywood. They have to commute over two hours just to come to work each way.
“I hope (people) see that this workforce is united. Los Angeles is going through a unique thing right now where the labor force has had it. We’re taking to the streets to show that we want our fair share. So I hope when everyone drives by, they see the workers out here united and we’re going to stay united until they sign our contract.”
María Berroca, 55, housekeeper, 1 Hotel West Hollywood:
“I’m here fighting for a new contract, and because for me, honestly, I can’t afford my rent. I live alone, and I need my pay increase to be able to pay my rent. I worked during the pandemic—with or without the pandemic we had to work. It was really difficult.
“I want them (people driving by) to know we are fighting for a fair contract.”
Kenny Resch, 28, bellman, 1 Hotel West Hollywood:
“I’ve never been a part of a strike. So coming here —today is my first day striking— seeing it and feeling the energy, it’s definitely palpable. I’m here in support of everyone, not just the front desk, but people in housekeeping, people in food and beverage—everyone that has been working here tirelessly for overworked hours, understaffed.
“Maybe by us coming outside of it (the hotel) for once, they’re going to see, oh wow, this isn’t just a thing that I drive by every day. This is like a living, breathing building that feeds families.”
Evelyn Cabrera, 36, housekeeper, 1 Hotel West Hollywood:
“We are asking for fair negotiations since they do not want us to renew our contract. It is a priority for us to have medical insurance for ourselves and our family. We are fighting for our rights and a fair and dignified salary for each one of us who are present.
“We’ve suffered abuse with work overload. They have done different actions to us at work, but there is strength in unity. We want everyone to realize the exploitation we receive as housekeepers.”
Mariana Martínez Barba is a summer correspondent at Futuro Media and is currently studying at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Twitter: @marianamtzbarba