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Hotel Workers’ Union in L.A. Ramps Up Pressure on Meetings

Representing thousands of hotel workers in Southern California, Unite Here Local 11 calls for a boycott of the entire city by meetings and events. A few groups had already moved upcoming meetings out of hotels without a new union contract.

With a rolling labor walkout in effect since July 3 across more than 60 hotels in the greater Los Angeles area, Unite Here Local 11 announced on August 24 that they are calling on all meeting and event groups to not meet in any venue in Los Angeles until a new union contract is signed by the affected hotels.

In addition to other terms, the workers have demanded an immediate $5 an hour raise “so that they can afford to live in the city where they work,” according to a union press release. A list of the union’s contract desires can be found in this MeetingsNet article.

While the union reached a deal on June 29 with the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles—the largest of the 65 affected properties—negotiations have stalled elsewhere.

The union’s August 24 media event took place in front of the JW Marriott LA Live, one of the hotels that does not have a new contract with workers. Also at the rally were representatives of American Political Science Association, which moved its September 1-4 annual meeting from that hotel to the Los Angeles Convention Center, less than half a mile away.

While the union had asked the association in July to cancel its in-person event altogether, APSA noted that it would simply be too costly to do so. On its website, an August 18 note from association leadership to its members said this:

In the matter of just a few short weeks, APSA staff accomplished the unprecedented task of relocating hundreds of panels and other events out of the JW Marriott, as Unite Here Local 11 requested in their July 19 letter. This letter did not specify that the union was requesting relocation out of the city of Los Angeles, simply relocation.

Some attendees may have [lodging] reservations in hotels that are subject to potential picket lines. Please check our planning page for a list of these hotels, as well as those that are not subject to union activity.

Moving to an entirely online format in such a short time was not possible. Cancellation would have cost many of our members, especially those at vulnerable career stages, the opportunity to showcase their work and to network. It would have also cost our organization millions of dollars in cancellation fees for non-struck venues, returned registration fees, and payments to vendors other than hotels. These costs amount to, at a minimum, a quarter of APSA’s annual operating budget and perhaps substantially more. They would have led to staff layoffs and undermined basic services and functions.

We look forward to seeing those of you who will be in L.A. for the meeting, wish the best for those of you who have moved your event [participation] online, and hope to see those who have decided to cancel at future APSA events.”

Other groups that have moved their events out of affected hotels include the Democratic Governors Association and the Japanese American Citizens League.

The call for a citywide boycott is an escalation of the union’s tactics, which previously featured messages such as this one on Unite Here Local 11’s website:


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