Thousands of hotel workers in Southern California begin strike, demand higher pay

Thousands of hotel workers in Southern California went on strike Sunday, calling for higher wages and better benefits in what the union is calling the largest U.S. strike in the industry’s history.

About 15,000 members of Unite Here Local 11, which says it represents over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona, across the Los Angeles and Orange counties are affected by the strike. Hotel workers are demanding a contract negotiation for higher wages, improved health care benefits, and stronger workplace protections.

Thousands walked off the job at more than a dozen hotels in downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, the union said on Twitter. Their contracts had expired at midnight on Friday at more than 60 hotels, including properties owned by major chains such as Marriott and Hilton.

Participates include cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen and front desk agents.

“Our members were devastated first by the pandemic, and now by the greed of their bosses,” union co-president Kurt Petersen said in a statement Sunday. “The industry got bailouts while we got cuts.”

The work stoppage also comes at the beginning of the Fourth of July extended holiday weekend and a busy tourist season.
The strike, expected to last for several days, follows other industry strikes in Southern California with workers uniting to push for better pay and working conditions amid a surge in the cost of living.