© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Thousands of Southern California hotel workers have walked off the job


In Southern California, thousands of hotel workers are on strike. They walked off the job yesterday in a bid for better pay and benefits. Libby Rainey with LAist News reports.


LIBBY RAINEY, BYLINE: At the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, scores of employees on Sunday weren't inside working but were outside picketing.


RAINEY: These are housekeepers, dishwashers, servers and front-line workers at some of the nation's most recognizable and ritziest hotels, like the Beverly Hilton. These employees say Los Angeles just isn't affordable anymore, and that's why they're demanding a major raise. Jose Zuniga was picketing on Sunday.

JOSE ZUNIGA: Expensive, expensive to live in LA. It's super hard when you have to pay rent, when you have to pay gas, especially rent in LA is just tremendous.

RAINEY: Hotel workers like Zuniga make, on average, about $25 an hour. They're asking for an immediate $5 per hour hike with raises totaling $11 over three years. Cristina Betancourt works at the Ritz-Carlton.

CRISTINA BETANCOURT: Eighty-five percent of my income goes towards rent because I just moved to LA. So it's really hard to even find a place in LA that you can afford on one income.

RAINEY: Betancourt also says her schedule is impossible to predict due to the elimination of daily room cleaning, a policy many hotels implemented during the pandemic. The union she belongs to, Unite Here Local 11, is also bargaining for manageable staffing workloads and better health care. One large hotel, the Westin Bonaventure, made a tentative deal with the union last week, averting a strike there. But contracts at more than 60 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties have lapsed. A spokesman for the bargaining group representing dozens of the hotels said they remain open for business and they're ready to keep negotiating. Workers like Zuniga say they're willing to stay on the picket lines until they get what they're asking for.

ZUNIGA: I'm getting ready for however long it takes.

RAINEY: The hotel industry says elected officials should be held accountable for the skyrocketing cost of housing, not them.

For NPR News, I'm Libby Rainey in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF DUO SIRC'S "IMMERSION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Libby Rainey

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.