Why It Matters
Workers across Southern California in a range of industries have threatened to strike or walked off the job in recent months, displaying unusual levels of solidarity with other unions as they push for higher pay and better working conditions.
Dockworkers disrupted operations for weeks at the colossal ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach until they reached a tentative deal in June. And screenwriters have been picketing outside the gates of Hollywood studios for about two months.
Hugo Soto-Martinez, a Los Angeles City Council member who worked as an organizer for Unite Here Local 11, said that the breadth of industries locked in labor fights demonstrated frustration especially among younger workers, who have seen inequality widen and opportunities evaporate.
“It’s homelessness, it’s the cost of housing,” he said. “I think people are understanding those issues in a much more palpable way.”
The hotel workers’ strike comes just as the summer tourism season ramps up, and labor leaders say they are hoping to capitalize on that momentum.
Last year, tourism in the city reached its highest levels since the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. Roughly 46 million people visited, and there was $34.5 billion in total business sales in 2022, reaching 91 percent of the record set in 2019.
But for many workers like Diana Rios-Sanchez, who works as a housekeeping supervisor at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, the pay has not helped to keep up with inflation.
She often wonders how long she and her three children, who live in a one-bedroom apartment in El Sereno, a neighborhood on the Eastside of Los Angeles, can afford to stay in the city.
“All we do in hotels is work and work and get by with very little,” Ms. Rios-Sanchez said. “We take care of the tourists, but no one takes care of us.”
Business groups say that simply demanding that employers pay workers more does not address the much-deeper problems that have led to sky-high costs of living in California.
The union has been negotiating since April for a new contract. In June, members approved a strike.
The group has asked that hourly wages, now $20 and $25 for housekeepers, immediately increase by $5, followed by $3 bumps in each subsequent year of a three-year contract.
By contrast, Mr. Grossman said in the statement that the hotels had offered to increase pay for housekeepers currently making $25 an hour in Beverly Hills and downtown Los Angeles to more than $31 per hour by January 2027.
On Thursday, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, a large hotel in downtown Los Angeles, announced that it had staved off a walkout of its workers with a contract deal.
Agreements made this year will set pay levels ahead of the 2026 World Cup and 2028 Olympics, which are expected to be enormous tourist draws to the region.
The Hotel Association of Los Angeles said in a statement that the hotels would be able to serve visitors through the weekend. The workers will be off the job until a deal is reached.