Westin Long Beach workers may celebrate 4th of July weekend on strike

Workers at the Downtown hotel voted to authorize the strike Tuesday as contract negotiations drag on.

Westin Long Beach workers may celebrate 4th of July weekend on strike
Guests exit the Westin Long Beach Wednesday, July 3, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Westin Long Beach workers voted Tuesday to authorize a strike, meaning the Downtown hotel could have a challenging Fourth of July weekend.

Unite Here Local 11, which represents more than 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona, announced the authorization Wednesday, saying it is “highly likely” room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, front desk agents, servers and others would go on strike July 4.

“I voted yes to strike because I deserve to make enough money to live near where I work,” Juana Melara, a room attendant of 10 years, said in a statement. “We work in the same economy as the other hotels and this is the contract all the other hotels have. We at the Westin Long Beach deserve it, too.”

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

The authorization comes one year after the largest wave of hotel worker strikes in modern U.S. history, which saw thousands of workers picketing dozens of hotels across the southland.

Brandon Richardson was laid off by the Long Beach Post on March 22. Thank him for continuing to cover Long Beach without pay.

The Westin has seen some picketing over the past year, but those worker actions paled in comparison to incidents Hotel Maya across Queensway Bay. The Maya has been at the center of numerous controversies, including a brawl between picketing workers and wedding guests, and accusations of an investor assaulting a picketer.

The Maya, however, reached a contract agreement with the union in April. The agreement was in line with others at more than 60 Southern California hotels signed over the last year, including a $5-per-hour raise in the first year, with wages for some reaching $35 per hour by 2027.

The contracts also include guaranteed pre-pandemic staffing levels, mandatory daily room cleaning and one of the highest paid pension plans for service workers in nation, among other things, the union has said.

Only a handful of the roughly 70 hotels with workers represented by the union continue to hold out, according to spokesperson Maria Hernandez, who said those workers “won’t take anything less.”

“Our members have shown over the past year that workers are prepared to strike to secure living wages and other basic rights and protections,” Local 11 co-President Kurt Petersen said in a statement. “Long Beach is part of the hospitality mosaic of Southern California. Yet the Westin Long Beach wants its workers to agree to a second-class contract compared to what their peers have won. Workers won’t stand for it.”

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