‘As long as it takes’: Westin Long Beach workers are on strike

Around 100 workers walked out Saturday morning and refuse to work until a new contract agreement is reached.

‘As long as it takes’: Westin Long Beach workers are on strike
Guests arrive at Westin Long Beach in Downtown to find a picket line of striking workers Sunday, July 7, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Around 100 Westin Long Beach employees, including room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, front desk agents, servers and others, walked off the job Saturday morning and are now on strike as contract negotiations between their union and hotel management drag on.

Negotiations between the hotel and Unite Here Local 11, a union that represents more than 32,000 hotel workers, began earlier this year. The previous contract expired on June 30, according to union spokesperson Maria Hernandez, and workers voted to authorize the strike on July 2.

“We want to get the fair language that we need … and if the strike is what it takes to get it, we’re going to do it as much as we can,” Juana Melara, who has been a room attendant at the 469-room hotel for a decade, said in an interview Sunday.

Officials at the Westin, which is owned by private equity firms Rockpoint and Highgate, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Melara claimed the hotel generates more than enough revenue to cover workers' demands, which include higher wages, guaranteed staffing levels and more. One major worker ask is for a pension so they can retire and not “end up on the street homeless,” Melara said.

Brandon Richardson was laid off from the Long Beach Post on March 22, yet he still serves as a multimedia columnist for the Watchdog without pay. Thank him for his work.

The Fourth of July weekend strike comes one year after the largest hotel worker labor movement in modern U.S. history. Since July 4, 2023, thousands of hotel workers have picketed and gone on strike across the Southland.

Out of around 70 Southern California hotels with workers represented by Unite Here, more than 60 have signed historic contracts that include an immediate $5-per-hour raise, with wages for non-tipped workers set to increase to $35 per hour by July 1, 2027. The contracts also include one of the highest-paid pension plans for service workers in the nation, according to the union.

And Westin workers will not settle for less, Melara said.

“We’re just asking for what we think we deserve for the hard work that we do, it’s as simple as that,” Melara said, adding that she often cannot take her 10-minute breaks due to her demanding workload.

Workers will remain on strike “as long as it takes,” she said. “We want to get what we’re asking for and we’re not going to stop until we get it. We’re going to keep pushing.”

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