Thousands of California hotel workers go on strike during busy holiday weekend

A major hotel workers’ strike continued Tuesday in Southern California, with about 15,000 housekeepers, cooks and bellhops walking off the job in the middle of the busy holiday weekend.

The strike kicked off Sunday as members of the UNITE HERE Local 11 union began forming picket lines at some of the biggest hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties, leaving hotels scrambling to accommodate guests.

Hospitality workers told CBS News that striking was no longer a choice, but a necessity. 

“It’s really expensive. It’s hard,” room attendant Eledia Manzo said.

Even working 40 hours a week cleaning hotel rooms isn’t enough to keep Manzo and her three kids afloat, she said.

“It’s really hard paying the rent, paying bills,” Manzo said. 

She’s one of thousands of workers demanding a raise to be able to live closer to the cities where they work, where housing costs are some of the highest in the country. 

“The workers have told them what they need to actually be able to live here and survive here,” union member Maria Hernandez told CBS News.

The union wants an immediate raise of $5 an hour. The hotels are offering $2.50. For an employee working 40 hours a week, that’s a difference of over $5,000 a year. 

The union also wants better health benefits, higher pension contributions and less strenuous workloads.

During the pandemic, hotels cut jobs, but as the tourism industry bounced back, workers say they’re still being asked to do more with less.

In a statement, the bargaining group representing most of the hotels involved said “the Union has shown no desire to engage in productive, good faith negotiations.”

“The Hotels want to continue to provide strong wages, affordable quality family healthcare and a pension,” the statement reads. 

The hotels say they plan to continue serving guests in the short term, while the workers are asking for guests support by taking their business elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *