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Hotels, Workers Union Still Deadlocked

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By Jorge Casuso

Editor's note: This report was updated at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday to include Unite HERE Local 11's comments.

July 18, 2023 -- Two weeks after the hotel workers union staged its first wave of strikes, which included walkouts at five Santa Monica hotels, negotiations remain deadlocked.

The Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) representing more than 44 Los Angeles and Orange County-area Hotels reported that their latest offer on Tuesday was rejected by the union.

Unite HERE Local 11 countered that the hotels did not offer additional money, saying the bargaining unit "hit a new low in greed and cruelty."

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

That is an increase from the $2.50 the first year and $6.25 over 4 years but far short of the $5 an hour raise the union is seeking, with an additional $3 an hour in subsequent years of the contract.

“We made an improved wage offer today but Local 11 summarily rejected it,” said Keith Grossman, the group's spokesperson. “The Union made no counteroffer.”

“We are extremely disappointed that Local 11 refuses to bargain in good faith,” Grossman said. “Local 11 continues to signal that it is more interested in its political agenda than negotiating to reach an agreement.

The union countered that the bargaining offered no additional money.

"The hotel industry, led by Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott, presented a new economic proposal that did not have one penny more for wages, pension or healthcare," union officials said.

"The hotels rejected mandatory daily room cleaning which was eliminated during the pandemic and have rejected Juneteenth as a paid holiday."

According to union officials, the Democratic Governors Association, Japanese American Citizens League, W.K Kellogg Foundation and the Bravo show "Vanderpump Rules" have "canceled or moved events to avoid crossing a picket line."

“Just when you thought it was not possible, the hotels hit a new low in greed and cruelty," said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Local 11. "They walked in with a proposal that would make Ebenezer Scrooge envious."

"Workers cannot afford to pay rent; meanwhile, room rates at the Waldorf Astoria clock in at $1,400 tonight,” Petersen said. "Their greed has forced us to consider calling a boycott of Los Angeles.”

On Saturday, UNITE HERE Local 11 posted a press release on its website, as workers at 12 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange County returned to work from a second wave of strikes.

The latest strikes followed walkouts at 21 regional hotels over the Independence Day weekend.

Union officials said Saturday that "more strikes and other actions by hotel workers could take place at any time."

In addition to the wage increases, the hotel union is seeking improved health care and pension benefits.

The union also is insisting that hotels support a Los Angeles ballot measure to house the homeless, along with a 7 percent tax on guests of unionized hotels to create an affordable housing fund for workers.

The bargaining group has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the union violated the law by striking over claims unrelated to the employees' contracts ("Hotels File Unfair Labor Charges Against Workers Union," July 6, 2023).

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