Last week, UNITE HERE Local 11, a union that represents service and hospitality workers across the American Southwest, asked 15,000 of its southern California members to vote on a strike authorization. Workers overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike, with 96% of Local 11 members voting in favor. The strike authorization is a significant step towards convincing the region’s hotel operators to consider pay increases for their workers, many of which struggle to make ends meet.
Local 11’s move comes less than a month before 62 of its contracts with Southern California hotels are set to expire. For months, the union and hotels have attempted to negotiate new agreements but have failed to reach a consensus on Local 11’s proposals, including pay increases for its members and other provisions meant to address employees’ healthcare, pensions, work eligibility, and issues related to understaffing.
As California has emerged from the pandemic, the hospitality and tourism industries have roared back, with visitor spending expected to set new records in 2023. However, the workers that form the backbone of the two industries have largely not reaped the rewards of rebound. Rent hikes and increased living costs continue to force many hotel workers out of their homes while their employers fail to address persistently low wages.
Teukolsky Law stands in solidarity with Southern California’s hotel workers and commends the work Local 11 is doing to ensure workers are fairly compensated and protected heading into the summer.
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in an August 26th article by Law360 about the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance (HWPO) that recently went into effect in Los Angeles on August 12th. The ordinance seeks to protect Los Angeles’ hotel workers by mandating extra compensation when they are required to clean more than a certain amount of square footage in a given day. The ordinance also requires that they be provided with “panic buttons” given the high rates of sexual assault experienced by hotel workers.
The HWPO requires hotel employers with 45 or more guest rooms to pay their workers double-time rates for all hours worked in a day if they clean more than a certain amount of square footage. For hotels with 45-60 guest rooms, workers must be paid double-time rates if they exceed 4,000 square feet of floor space cleaned in an 8-hour day. At hotels with more than 60 quest rooms, employees must be paid double-time rates if they exceed 3,500 square feet of floor space cleaned. HWPO also requires that hotel employers keep a record of all workers, the rooms they cleaned, the square footage of those rooms and other information and maintain those records for three years. These requirements aim to ensure that hotel workers are fairly compensated for work that is often long and difficult.
The articles states, “Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law, who has represented hotel workers, said the housekeeping job is onerous and often subject to scheduling changes. ‘You have situations where the hotel employer will require housekeepers to clean a very high number of rooms in their eight-hour shift, and it's very stressful,’ Teukolsky said. ‘It's very difficult for housekeepers to meet the quotas that are imposed,’” among other quotes from Ms. Teukolsky.
If you are a hotel worker in Los Angeles and believe that your employer may be violating the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, click here to get in touch with Teukolsky Law.
Hollywood Reporter Article on Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s CONTROVERSIAL Oscar Party AT CHATEAU MARMONT Highlights TWO Teukolsky Law Cases
The Hollywood Reporter published an article on March 22, 2022 discussing the criticism that Beyoncé and Jay-Z have drawn for deciding to hold their annual Oscars after-party at the Chateau Marmont, despite mounting allegations that the Chateau has engaged in racist practices to the detriment of its Black employees and customers. The party, known as the “Gold Party,” has long been one of the most coveted invites of Oscars night and was routinely thrown at the Chateau Marmont prior to the pandemic.
This year, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s plans to host their first Gold Party since the pandemic at the Chateau has drawn criticism because of an ongoing boycott of Chateau Marmont, led by the local hotel workers’ Union, UNITE HERE Local 11. The boycott, which has support from celebrities such as Spike Lee and Issa Rae, was prompted in part by allegations in two lawsuits filed by Teukolsky Law in 2021.
The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of former Chateau events server Thomasina Gross (pictured above), a Black woman, and charges the Chateau with race discrimination, sex harassment, and retaliation. The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of former Chateau night auditor April Blackwell, also a Black woman, and involves allegations about repeated racist behavior from guests that went unchecked by her superiors at the Chateau. Both lawsuits were previously covered in reports by The Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times.
If you believe you have been experienced race discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, or other unlawful workplace practices, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.