Complaining of low wages and severe workloads, housekeepers and other employees at five area hotels authorized their union on Friday to call a strike.
The hotels include two downtown Los Angeles area establishments -- The Wilshire Plaza and the Holiday Inn -- as well as the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica and the Marriott Manhattan Beach.
The five are holdouts in a years-long effort by Unite Here Local 11 to improve working conditions for the largely Latino and African American workforce in Los Angeles hotels. More than a dozen other establishments, including the Beverly Hilton, the Millennium Biltmore, and the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, have agreed to new union contracts in the last year. Those contracts include wage increases of $2.30 an hour over three years for employees who don't make tips, maintenance of health benefits and easing of housekeeper workloads after numerous injury complaints.
According to a recent 45-count complaint by the National Labor Relations Board, the Wilshire Plaza failed to make payments into its workers' Health and Welfare funds -- thus cutting off their medical coverage -- and refused to pay vacation time. The hotel's manager could not be reached for comment Saturday. A call to the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, which represents hotel owners, was not returned.