LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents over 32,000 hospitality workers across Southern California and Arizona, sent a letter to the American Hotel and Lodging Association and dozens of members of Congress in firm opposition to the “Save Hotel Jobs Act” today.
The policy being considered by Congress would hand over $20 billion in federal aid to encourage hotels to bring back their veteran workers. This aid is in addition to the millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans multiple hotels received, originally intended for small businesses to keep workers on their payroll. Local 11 has estimated the country’s hospitality industry has already received $13.7 billion in public support, while 75% of our members in the hospitality industry remain unemployed.
In California, the hospitality industry and hotel employers lobbied against a right to return bill that would have guaranteed veteran workers their jobs back as the industry reopens. In the face of the industry’s opposition, UNITE HERE Local 11 was successful in getting right-to-return legislation passed in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, and most recently across the state of California, extending these protections to 700,000 hospitality workers.
“Bringing back veteran workers should not come with a $20 billion price tag. This is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, and hotel workers who lost lives and livelihoods because of the pandemic. Any hotel employer using this as an opportunity to make money should be ashamed of themselves,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.
Hospitality workers, who tend to be majority women of color, have suffered the brunt of this pandemic, with many losing their lives to COVID-19. Employers like Terranea Resort and Chateau Marmont fired their veteran workers and cut their healthcare during the pandemic.
“The federal government has given millions in relief to these hotel conglomerates. It is time to put workers first. The Biden administration and Congress have an opportunity to build back better and hold employers like Chateau Marmont and Terranea accountable,” said Susan Minato, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.
“We ask Congress to take the responsible path. First by fixing the Paycheck Protection Program so there is genuine transparency and accountability. Second, any federal handouts to the hotel industry should be conditioned and provide enforceable COVID-19 protocols to ensure worker safety and any direct payments should go to struggling workers,” said Ada Briceño, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.
“I gave 40 years of my life to the Chateau Marmont. I lost my healthcare after they fired me and now, I drive part-time delivering pizzas. Yet Andre Balazs, the owner of the Chateau Marmont, was approved for a $1.95 million federal loan. Workers like me have yet to see any of that money or to be brought back to work,” said Carlos Barrera, garage attendant at Chateau Marmont.
UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union representing over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.