Strike hits dozens of L.A. hotels as tourism industry expects lift from Taylor Swift’s SoFi concerts. Here’s what to know

A boy holds up a sign reading: "Open letter from hotel housekeepers to Taylor Swift"
Striking hotel housekeepers called on Taylor Swift to support their fight for better wages and benefits at a rally July 27 at the Hyatt Regency LAX in Los Angeles.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles in the next few days — particularly if you’re visiting to see Taylor Swift — there’s a chance a strike by hotel workers could affect your stay.

A group of housekeepers, front desk workers, cooks and other hotel employees represented by Unite Here Local 11 has been urging the pop star to postpone her upcoming concerts to support their push for higher wages and improved benefits and working conditions. The workers say they don’t earn enough to afford housing near their jobs.

To underscore their Taylor Swift call to action, workers at the Four Points Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Westin and Sheraton Gateway hotels near Los Angeles International Airport walked off the job at 5 a.m. Thursday.


Hotel owners and operators are poised to rake in profits this week, and union officials have said the strike action first aimed to target hotels near SoFi Stadium, where the singer’s Eras tour is scheduled for a run of six concerts that began Thursday evening.

Early Friday morning, workers walked off the job at 22 additional hotels in the LAX area, downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Long Beach and Beverly Hills. At two other hotels, union members began striking Thursday to protest worker discipline that they contend was strike retaliation.

The labor action represents the fourth wave of work stoppages over the last month by hotel workers in Los Angeles and Orange counties who are represented by Unite Here Local 11. It’s the biggest mobilization of hotel union members so far this summer, with workers at a total of 28 hotels on strike as of Friday.

Hotel workers have been walking off the job intermittently, a few days at a time, ever since the Fourth of July weekend, as contracts expired for more than 15,000 hotel workers at some 60 properties. The previous burst of strikes, which kicked off July 20 at hotels in West Hollywood and Pasadena, ended July 28, according to the union.

Many of the brands affected are under common corporate ownership, and include Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, DoubleTree, Sheraton, Four Seasons, W, Loews, Fairfield, Holiday Inn, Westin and Hampton Inn.

Here is a list of Southern California hotels where workers are currently on strike, arranged by geography:




Santa Monica

Long Beach

Beverly Hills

Universal City

Picketing workers banged on buckets and blew horns that could be heard up and down Century Boulevard early Thursday morning.


At the Four Points Sheraton, workers mounted a banner saying, “Taylor, make this your solidarity era.”

Sandra Lopez, who has worked as a housekeeper at the hotel for six years, said big events like Swift’s concerts mean hotels fill up and workers shoulder a heavier workload — without higher pay. Lopez said she is paid $20.55 hourly.

“There’s a lot of people that come in, and there’s a lot more work for us, and it’s the same pay,” Lopez said. “We’re aware that Taylor Swift also supports women’s rights, women’s issues. So we invite her to join our fight for better wages.”

As L.A.’s hospitality industry welcomes Taylor Swift’s Eras tour and the business it will bring, striking hotel workers called on the pop star to join their cause.

July 27, 2023

Last week the union published an open letter to Swift signed by 50 hotel housekeepers. A group of workers protested in front of the Hyatt Regency LAX to raise awareness among Swift fans.

“Your shows make our region’s hotels a lot of money. In Los Angeles, hotels are doubling and tripling what they charge because you are coming,” the letter reads. “They also add junk fees on rooms, just like Ticketmaster does. But we see none of it.”

Dozens of state and local elected officials — including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, L.A. City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez — penned their own letter urging Swift to show solidarity with workers.


“Hotel workers are fighting for their lives. They are fighting for a living wage,” the letter reads. “Speak Now! Stand with hotel workers and postpone your concerts.”

The union has not yet received a response from Swift.

The constantly shifting nature of the hotel strike action can make it difficult to keep track of what’s going on. Here’s what you need to know.

July 24, 2023

“We’ve reached out to Taylor’s people a dozen times, but we haven’t heard anything,” said Maria Hernandez, Unite Here Local 11 spokesperson.

Union workers also have been striking since Wednesday at the L.A. Grand hotel, which has provided about 480 rooms for the city’s unhoused population since the outbreak of COVID-19. The downtown Los Angeles hotel is part of Mayor Karen Bass’ Inside Safe initiative, which seeks to dismantle homeless encampments and bring people indoors.

Unite Here Local 11 has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing hotel management of cracking down on workers shortly after they went on strike by unlawfully disciplining a worker named Maribel Fajardo for raising workplace safety issues in staff meetings.

Russ Cox, a representative for Shenzhen New World I, the Chinese company that owns the L.A. Grand, said the worker was written up for repeatedly rehashing during meetings an incident in which a guest berated workers.

“It delays people from going to do their jobs,” Cox said. “There was no retaliation.”

Sheraton Universal workers are also on strike, alleging in an unfair labor practice complaint filed by the union that management disciplined workers for participating in protests for better working conditions. Sheraton Universal management could not immediately be reached for comment.


What do hotel workers want?

The striking hotel workers have said their pay hasn’t kept pace with soaring housing costs, and as a result, many have been displaced from neighborhoods near their workplaces and forced into long commutes.

With an inevitable boost to the local tourism economy from Swift’s tour, hotel workers protesting Thursday said they wanted to feel supported by visitors and hope visitors are aware of how much labor it takes to create an enjoyable experience for them.

Lilia Sotelo, 47, protested outside the Sheraton Gateway, where she has worked for more than 20 years. She makes $19.80 an hour and said she and her husband feel as if they are living paycheck to paycheck. Many of her co-workers are forced to work two to three jobs, Sotelo said.

“I would like for guests and visitors to pay attention to how much they’re being charged to stay at the hotel,” Sotelo said. “Sometimes they’re charged certain fees, and I’m not sure that they know what those fees are. Those fees don’t make their way to us.”

Striking hotel workers have raised concerns about understaffing.

“It’s unfair because the workload we do, 13 to 14 rooms per shift, and God knows how much they’re charging per room to customers and we’re not seeing a lot of that money,” said Claudia Pereira, 57.

Pereira said the union’s push for comprehensive healthcare insurance is important to her because she recently had an epilepsy attack at work and was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance.


“If I didn’t have some sort of health insurance, I don’t know what I would have done,” Pereira said. “So we want to keep that health insurance. And and we want it to keep up with the costs of everything else.”

What do their employers say?

The loudest voice representing the hotels’ position in the dispute is a newly formed Coordinated Bargaining Group that represents 44 hotels in Southern California. The group has repeatedly said Unite Here Local 11’s demands for sweeping pay increases are unreasonable and an overreach.

Workers at more than 60 hotel sites authorized a strike, but they aren’t striking all at once. Instead, they are engaged in rolling work stoppages in which workers at a cluster of hotels walk out for a few days at a time.

The Westin Bonaventure is the only hotel so far to have reached a deal, averting a strike just as contracts were set to expire June 30.

As Los Angeles and Orange counties brace for the largest U.S. hotel worker strike in recent memory, one downtown L.A. hotel has struck a tentative deal with the union representing its employees.

June 29, 2023

What effects does the strike have?

Early morning picket lines have provoked noise complaints from guests, and there have been reports of passersby throwing eggs and pouring cups of urine on picketing workers.

Individual hotels contacted by The Times have declined to comment on how the walkout affects their services.


Peter Hillan, spokesperson for the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, has said that larger chains typically bring in middle managers and nonunion workers from other properties to fill in the gaps left by striking workers. Hotels also are recruiting temporary workers usings apps such as Instawork.

The “core functions” of the hotel, such as safety and housekeeping, will be preserved, Hillan has said. Some of the less essential amenities, such as the full range of food and beverage services, may not be available during the walkout, however, he said.

Some hotels involved in the dispute have lost business, as organizers of major conferences have canceled and moved to union-approved locations. Examples include the Japanese American Citizens League National Convention and a conference of the Democratic Governors Assn.

There’s also a storm brewing among America’s political scientists, whose academic association decided against canceling its annual meeting in L.A. despite the ongoing hotel walkouts.

The union asked the American Political Science Assn. in a July 19 letter to cancel its annual meeting, but the organization declined to do so in a statement published last week. The association said it would cost $2.8 million to cancel.

The association’s leadership cited negative effects to members of the group who are from marginalized communities and the local economy, calling its predicament a “no-win situation.”


“After careful consideration, we feel that in light of the interests of our membership — especially underrepresented scholars, scholars from the Global South, and non-tenured scholars — we must maintain the Meeting in Los Angeles,” the statement said.

Southern California hotels file NLRB complaint accusing Unite Here Local 11 of unlawfully striking over non-labor issues.

July 6, 2023

Some political scientists, outraged by the statement, argued it cloaked antiworker sentiment in doublespeak. Some speakers who were scheduled to join panels pulled out or said they would speak in online panels only.

Jé St Sume, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland who studies race and American politics, moved her panel online. She felt strongly about the decision because her mother is a Haitian immigrant and worked in hotels when she first moved to the U.S., she said.

“I’ve come to the decision that I just can’t and I don’t want to cross the picket line personally,” St Sume said.

Leadership of the American Political Science Assn. “somehow argues that supporting striking workers will harm other workers and is also suddenly very concerned about the plight of precarious labor in academia. You cannot make this stuff up,” Thea Riofrancos, an associate professor of political science at Providence College, tweeted.

The conference is scheduled to take place Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live and expects to bring nearly 6,000 academics to the city. The Marriott is among the scores of hotels in contract talks with Unite Here Local 11.


Sidney Rothstein, an assistant professor of political science at Williams College, helped circulate a petition, calling on the association’s leaders to “respect labor rights.” Rothstein said in an interview that he was disappointed in leaders’ response.

“The way they decided to respond created a lot of chaos and the way they justified it in language I think a lot of APSA members found offensive,” Rothstein said.

After fielding backlash, the association announced on its website that hundreds of panels previously scheduled to be held in the J.W. Marriott are being relocated to the Los Angeles Convention Center, in response to these reactions.

What this means for visitors

The union says that the number of workers authorized to strike is the largest in U.S. history. So far, however, the walkouts have reached only a fraction of the city’s 100,000 hotel rooms. The hotel coalition negotiating with Unite Here estimates that some 15,000 rooms are covered by the contract talks.

Sweating workers across multiple industries in the Los Angeles area hit the (hot) pavement in continuing protest actions.

July 14, 2023

If you’re eager to avoid the protests or steer clear of the picket lines, there are plenty of options.

If you already have reservations, you can contact your hotel to see if it is the site of walkouts and if so, whether any services have been curtailed. You should also find out whether you’d have to pay a cancellation fee if you decide to go elsewhere; Hillan said that in the past, hotels have been willing to discuss a waiver in extraordinary circumstances.


To find an alternative, websites such as, Kayak, and allow you to search for a hotel by neighborhood (among many other specifications). All three show you nearby L.A. landmarks to help you orient your search.

Want to avoid the trouble of finding a hotel not affected by the strike? Use a vacation rental service such as Airbnb or VRBO to find alternative accommodations.

Times staff writers Gisselle Medina, Emma Fox and Jon Healey contributed to this report.