Home » Striking hotel workers reach contract agreements with 5 more hotels in months-long fight

Striking hotel workers reach contract agreements with 5 more hotels in months-long fight

by WorldFinance
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Five more Southern California hotels have reached tentative labor agreements covering about 650 workers, the latest settlements in a months-long strike that at times has been marked by violence.

In all, Unite Here Local 11 has signed tentative agreements with 34 out of some 60 properties in Los Angeles and Orange counties initially targeted by intermittent walkouts beginning in July. The union has said it is the largest hotel strike in modern U.S. history, involving some 15,000 cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, servers, porters and front desk agents.

Four Hyatt hotels — Hyatt Shay in Culver City, Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Hyatt Centric The Pike Long Beach and Hyatt Andaz West Hollywood — reached tentative agreements, the union said Thursday.

Sofitel, a French-style hotel in Beverly Hills, reached a tentative deal with the union last week.

As with the previous settlements, the union declined to provide details but said the deals will raise wages, strengthen pensions and increase investments in healthcare. The contracts will need to be put to a ratification vote by workers at the various hotels.

The terms of the tentative 4½-year collective bargaining agreement have “our colleagues’ best interests in mind,” said Michael D’Angelo, Hyatt Hotels Corp.’s head of labor relations overseeing the Americas region.

“Our purpose is to care for people so they can be their best. Our colleagues are the heart of our business, and their well being continues to remain a top priority,” D’Angelo said in an emailed statement.

Lourdes Nolasco, 63, a housekeeper at Hyatt Andaz for about 15 years, received a text message on Wednesday from a union organizer with news of the tentative agreement. Nolasco said she was so excited that she cried happy tears and “felt goosebumps.”

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The tentative deal came after a three-day strike by Andaz workers that ended Sunday.

Nolasco said some hotel guests were visibly displeased about the noisy picket line and made rude gestures at striking workers. On Saturday a passerby ripped a plastic horn out of the hands of one protester, Nolasco said.

Over the months, the strike has taken some ugly turns.

In July, strikers reported being splashed with urine and pelted with eggs. In August, the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that striking workers and their supporters had been attacked multiple times as they protested outside properties in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Last month, the union told police that picketers outside Hotel Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles were hit with metal pellets fired by an air gun.

Although the last few days of striking were stressful and intense, Nolasco said, she believes that it helped get the hotel to an agreement.

“The strike was long and hard, we were sometimes out in the cold, and raining, but that’s what a fight is going to be like,” Nolasco said.

Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, in an emailed statement praised Hyatt and Sofitel for “recognizing that their workers are essential to their success.”

Petersen said the union’s members “have never once faltered in this fight to win a wage that allows them to live near where they work. They have overcome intimidation, violence, and nothing will stop them until all hotels — including those run by private equity behemoths — sign this agreement.”

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Last month, the union reached a tentative deal with Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City covering about 250 workers.

Peter Hillan, a spokesperson for the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, previously has voiced skepticism about the lack of transparency regarding the terms of the deals.

“If that’s really a ready-to-go deal, it should be put forth for ratification,” Hillan said in December.

A coordinated bargaining group said to represent owners and operators of more than 40 Southern California properties had been involved in sporadic negotiations for several months, but it appears to have dissolved, Unite Here Local 11 spokesperson Maria Hernandez said. The union now is negotiating directly with hotel owners and operators, she said.

Keith Grossman, an attorney representing the coordinated group in talks with the union, did not respond to questions about whether the group had dissolved.

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