About two dozen Southern California hotels could be hit with a strike as early as Wednesday, as 7,500 local workers try to exercise their union’s growing muscle, built through a series of successful strikes against hotels this year around the nation.
Members of Unite Here Local 11 in Los Angeles and Orange counties voted 96% in favor of striking such high-end hotels as the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles and the nearby JW Marriott in the L.A. Live entertainment district, the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills and the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood.
Many of the local hotels, where labor contracts expired Nov. 30, belong to Marriott International and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
A Marriott spokesman said that the world’s largest hotel company has “always taken the negotiation process seriously and reached agreements. We respect the right of our associates to voice their opinions on issues that are important to them. Should the union and our employees choose to strike, our hotels will continue to operate and work to minimize any disruption.”
Hilton representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.
There have been 20 strikes against U.S. hotels this year, most involving Unite Here members. In Southern California, the union is pushing for higher wages, more affordable healthcare and panic buttons to protect housekeepers from sexual assaults, among other benefits.
“We are asking that this contract get workers to $25 an hour,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11. “L.A. has one of the highest costs of living in the country, and our booming tourism industry can afford to pay its workers a living wage.”
The union represents non-management employees, including front-desk clerks, housekeepers and hotel restaurant workers.
Nearly 8,000 hotel workers from Unite Here won what labor leaders say were historic contract improvements after striking for several weeks at hotels run by Marriott International in San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, San Jose, Boston, Detroit and on the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Oahu.
The strikes, which began in early October, were settled city by city, most in November. They disrupted operations at the hotels, where some managers were forced to close pools, cut back on restaurant service and urge guests to leave their rooms to get their own towels.
In San Francisco, about 2,500 hotels workers demonstrated for nine weeks before reaching an agreement early this month.
In those hotels, housekeepers who had previously been paid as low as $23 an hour won new a contract last week that called for a retroactive raise of $1.75 an hour, dating back to the end of the last contract in August, with regular raises for the next four years.