Councilmembers Caroline Torosis and Jesse Zwick have introduced a motion to formally support the strike and striking workers of Unite Here Local 11 during their labor dispute with hotels including the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Viceroy, Hampton Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott and Le Merigot Hotels in Santa Monica.
The motion will be voted on at tomorrow night’s meeting (link to agenda, item is 16-J.) During the “Summer of Solidarity” most of the City Council has joined a picket line Mayor Gleam Davis and Councilmembers Torosis and Zwick have marched with Unite Here. Phil Brock and Oscar de la Torre have marched with SEIU healthcare workers.
The union is asking for an immediate pay raise and raises consistent with the rising cost of living in Southern California. Santa Monica already has a separate, and higher, minimum wage for hotel workers but it doesn’t match the living wage for Southern California. Unite Here members have submitted two ballot resolutions that could appear on the Spring 2024 primary ballot in Santa Monica to increase the minimum wage and create an affordable housing trust fund with a new hotel tax.
Negotiations between Unite Here and a consortium of hotels began in April but broke down in June. The strike and picketing began in early July, right before one of the biggest tourism holidays of the year.
The relationship between the strikers and the hotels has gotten worse over the past month and a half with incidents at several regional hotels, including the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica turned violent with hotel security being the aggressors. Following the incident, the union filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board.
The motion makes note of the incident at the Fairmont Miramar before affirming the rights of hotel workers and unions in general to picket peacefully. The motion also states its unequivocal support for the unions in their negotiations with the hotels and asks the hotels to bargain in good faith, “center their negotiations around the recognition that skyrocketing housing costs with stagnating wages are key contributors to the homelessness crisis” and recognize that any contract must create humane working conditions and the ability to retire with financial security.