Los Angeles hotel strike has turned violent, union says

Striking hotel workers and their supporters have been attacked multiple times as they protested outside properties in Los Angeles and Orange counties, the hotel workers union alleged in an complaint filed Monday with the National Labor Relations Board.

Hundreds of workers rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Monday morning to protest what their union, Unite Here Local 11, described in the complaint as a pattern of violent incidents and property destruction at picket lines where workers have been on strike, specifically at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, Hotel Maya in Long Beach and Laguna Cliffs Marriott in Dana Point.

At one point, workers marched in a large circle, blocking the Wilshire Boulevard and 7th Street intersection, chanting and waving signs as police looked on.

Thousands of hotel workers have staged intermittent walkouts since early July as they demand higher wages and improved working conditions. Contracts covering more than 15,000 workers and more than 60 hotels expired June 30.

Last week, hundreds of employees across Los Angeles walked out, urging Taylor Swift to postpone her Aug.3-9 concerts at SoFi Stadium to support their push. The workers say they don’t earn enough to afford housing near their jobs. Only the Westin Bonaventure has reached a tentative agreement and avoided a strike.

Peter Hillan, a spokesperson for the California Hotel and Lodging Assn., said that safety is the top priority of the group’s members in the face of “Unite Here Local 11’s extremely aggressive and unlawful protest tactics.”

“Union representatives are blaring sirens and alarms at odd hours that not only disturb the peace and neighboring residents but also clearly create a safety risk,” Hillan said in an email. “Hotels have made law enforcement as well as the Mayor’s office aware of these increasingly aggressive actions by picketers aimed at guests, employees and our communities. We’ve asked that the police take concrete steps to ensure the safety of all. “

A video circulating online shows footage of security personnel pushing and tackling picketing hotel workers after a march Saturday in Santa Monica that ended at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows. The protesters appeared to be trying to cross a barrier set up in front of the luxury hotel, and Hillan noted “on the video at the Fairmont, union representatives are kicking over barricades intended to maintain safety and order.”

Another incident took place in Long Beach on Sunday at the Hotel Maya, according to the complaint.

“Hotel security personnel including a manager at the Maya Hotel sought to forcibly relocate striking workers using a chain link fence while a guest ran around the fence and punched a worker in the head” and pushed “at least two others,” the union said in a news advisory.

There were altercations on three days in July at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Hotel, the union said. On one, celebrity chef John Tesar, who runs the hotel’s Knife Modern Steak restaurant, swore at striking workers and broke one of their drums, the union said. A hotel representative told the New York Post that Tesar was removed from the hotel property and the company is examining “appropriate next steps.”

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