We’re halfway through 2023, and so far it’s lived up to experts’ predictions of being one of the most active years for labor strikes in recent memory. Below is a round-up of some of this year’s most significant strikes and strike authorizations.
LAUSD Teachers’ Strike
In late March, workers for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest public school system, embarked on a three-day strike hoping to secure pay increases as the cost of living in Southern California rapidly outpaced their wages.
The worker’s efforts were ultimately successful. In April, LAUSD ratified a contract negotiated with the teachers’ union, UTLA, that raises teachers’ pay by 21% over the course of three years, bringing the average LAUSD teacher salary to $106,000 by 2025. The agreement also included salary increases for LAUSD’s nurses, mental health workers, and special education teachers, along with promises to reduce class sizes. More than 94% of the 27,171 ballots cast by UTLA members were in favor of the new contract.
Hollywood Writers’ Strike
On May 2, the membership of the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA), a union representing approximately 11,500 Hollywood writers, went on strike. Hollywood writers are fighting against numerous trends in the entertainment industry that have caused their pay and job security to decline significantly over the past decade while industry profits have ballooned, particularly for the likes of streaming companies such as Netflix, which reported a $5.6 billion operating profit for 2022.
The writer’s strike is still ongoing with no end in sight. Highly anticipated TV projects such as “Stranger Things” and a “Game of Thrones” spinoff have been delayed and other major series are expected to be postponed. Beyond the changes Americans may see on their television screens, the strike also figures to have significant consequences for the economy at-large. The last writers’ strike in 2008 cost the California economy $2.1 billion as writers and countless other workers that support the entertainment industry– designers, electricians, grips, and restaurant workers – felt the crunch of the work stoppage.
UNITE HERE Local 11 Strike Authorization
On June 9, members of UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing service and hospitality workers across the American Southwest, overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike. The union could now call for 15,000 of its members across dozens of Southern California hotels to strike. Doing so would amount to the largest industry wide strike in U.S. history.
The top priority for the hotel workers is securing higher wages to combat the persistent rising cost of living in Southern California. Even though Hotel profits in Los Angeles and Orange County now exceed their pre-pandemic levels, the workers that form the backbone of their operations still struggle to make ends meet.
A strike may take place as early as July 4th weekend.
Teukolsky Law commends workers for the gains they’ve made this year and recognizes them for the courage it takes to put themselves on the picket line.
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.
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.