Workers at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows may strike as early as Wednesday over demands for their new contract, which include increasing their pay to $25 per hour by 2022.
If UNITE HERE Local 11, a union that represents hospitality workers, calls them to strike, Fairmont workers will join employees of dozens of hotels across Los Angeles and Orange County in demanding healthcare for part-time workers, $1,000-per-month pensions, panic buttons workers can use if they experience sexual violence while working alone in hotel rooms and stronger protections for immigrants.
The union’s contract expired on Nov. 30 and since Aug. 20, it has been negotiating a new contract that will last four years. 96 percent of the union’s members voted to strike, and it will stage actions at hotels in Beverly Hills, Downtown Los Angeles and Orange County on Wednesday in conjunction with the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Workers at the Miramar will hold a picket line at 6 a.m. Wednesday, said union spokesperson Andrew Cohen. Workers there are under strike authorization and the strike can be called at any time.
In addition to the union’s five main demands, workers at the Fairmont are asking the hotel to protect their jobs and benefits and offer severance packages while the hotel undergoes a major renovation.
The Miramar’s employees will not need to wait for the hotel to agree to provide panic buttons. Santa Monica City Council voted in October to create legislation to require employers to provide hotel workers with panic buttons they can use to report misconduct and remove themselves from dangerous situations.
“When you work at night or work alone in an isolated room, you can’t ask for help,” said Miramar employee Liliana Hernandez. “The panic buttons are going to be small and you can push it in your pocket without anyone noticing.”
Local 11 lobbied for the legislation and is trying to establish similar laws through ballot measures in Long Beach and Palos Verdes.
“We want the entire hotel industry to take sexual harassment and assault seriously,” Cohen said.
But Fairmont, which is owned by AccorHotels, a French giant that employs more than 250,000 workers worldwide, may have to make other concessions in its contract with Local 11, particularly on pay and pensions.
Hernandez said workers are prepared to strike if necessary for $25 per hour by 2022 because of the rising cost of housing in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
“Rent is impossible to pay, but our salaries have stayed where they are,” she said.
Hernandez said many of her coworkers are almost 65 but it will not be possible for them to retire with the pension Fairmont currently offers.
“We’re fighting for them because they’ve been working for almost 40 years and should be able to retire soon,” she said.
Fairmont could not be reached for comment.
This article was updated Dec. 11 at 1:12 p.m.