Hundreds of hotel workers kick off second wave of strikes in California demanding higher wages and a chance to live closer to work
After contracts expired June 30, Unite Here Local 11-represented workers at over 60 hotels began what could be the largest U.S. strike for the hotel industry.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Hundreds of hotel workers in Southern California hit the streets Tuesday, July 12, as they kicked off the second wave of strikes demanding higher wages and the opportunity to live near their work.
Workers at four hotels, including two near Disneyland, walked off the job this week after a three-day strike hit hotels in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Orange County over the busy Fourth of July weekend.
Beginning at 5 a.m., workers from the Hilton Anaheim, the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, the Hilton Irvine in Orange County and the Hyatt Regency near L.A. International Airport walked out, demanding higher pay and better benefits.
This follows a day after thousands of workers at eight hotels near LAX also walked off the job. Workers stood outside the Anaheim hotels carrying picket signs as Disneyland tourists walked by. Several strikers were also sounding bullhorn chants and beating drums.
Hotel workers and labor organizers have been striking as they say their current pay is unsustainable due to the high cost of living and rent, making commutes and buying basic necessities a lot harder, even impossible in some cases.
Maria Hernandez, a communications specialist with Unite Here, said the union's internal survey found that more than half of the workers who responded said they’ve either had to move or will move in the next five years due to rising costs and inflation.
The organizers, Unite Here Local 11, which represents more than 32,000 hospitality workers across Southern California and Arizona, many of whom are Latino, coordinated the latest strikes that are affecting roughly 12 hotels Monday and Tuesday near the Los Angeles airport and cities in Orange County.
The idea of striking came after 60 hotel contracts affecting 15,000 hotel workers, including front desk clerks, uniform and room attendants, restaurant workers and more, expired June 30.
The union has been in negotiations since late April. They are asking for an immediate $5 hourly wage increase as well as a $3-an-hour annual increase across two years, along with health care benefits; a pension; a policy against the use of E-Verify, the federal system used to check work eligibility based on immigration status; and safer workloads, among other conditions.
According to the union, the changes would help in part cover expected rising costs in Southern California ahead of the 2026 soccer World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Keith Grossman, an attorney with Hirschfeld Kraemer, one of two firms representing a coalition of 44 Southern California hotels, has said the group has been offered wage increases of $2.50 an hour in the first 12 months and $6.25 over four years.
Grossman said the union has not yet responded.
In a special election this October, voters in Anaheim will contemplate a $25-an-hour minimum wage for hotel and event center workers. Hoteliers that sign contracts with Unite Here Local 11 would be eligible to apply for a waiver under the proposed ballot measure.
Three other hotels in the Disneyland area including Disney Grand Californian Hotel, Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel are also members of Unite Here Local 11, but they have a separate contract that does not expire until Jan. 31, 2026.
The latest strikes are the largest to be authorized in recent memory in the hotel industry. Roughly 8,000 Marriott hotel workers across seven major U.S. cities also walked off the jobs in 2018 for two months before contract deals were ultimately reached.
According to Hernandez, there are still no bargaining meetings planned. She said the deal with the Westin “inspired” workers to go on strike, “proving that it’s possible,” and in regards to more strikes in the future, there are “more to come,” she said.
Hotels in L.A. play a crucial role in housing millions of guests every year who arrive for conferences, sports entertainment and Disneyland tourism.
The Anaheim Convention Center welcomed thousands of attendees and hundreds of brand exhibitors to VidCon, YouTube’s annual digital culture and creator conference a few months ago.
Angels star baseball player Shohei Ohtani has also been responsible for recent increased international interest and travel from Japan to L.A. and Anaheim. The overall visitor economy makes up 50% to 60% of Anaheim’s annual tax revenue, through occupancy, sales and property taxes.