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**Hotel Workers in Southern California Stage Largest Strike in History**

Thousands of hotel workers in Southern California have gone on strike, demanding better pay and benefits. This strike, organized by the union Unite Here Local 11, has been described as the largest in the union’s history. Cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen, and front desk agents are picketing outside major hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties as the summer tourist season gets underway.

**Union Demands for Higher Pay and Better Benefits**

Last month, members of Unite Here Local 11 voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing the strike. The union is demanding higher wages, improved healthcare benefits, higher pension contributions, and lighter workloads. Additionally, the union is advocating for the creation of a “hospitality workforce housing fund” to assist workers with the rising cost of living in the greater Los Angeles area. Many employees currently have lengthy commutes due to the inability to afford housing close to their workplaces.

**Devastation During the Pandemic and Greed of Employers**

Union co-president Kurt Petersen expressed the struggles faced by the members, stating, “Our members were devastated first by the pandemic, and now by the greed of their bosses. The industry received bailouts while we faced cuts.” The pandemic has had a severe impact on the hospitality industry, and hotel workers have been left in challenging positions. The strike is a result of their dissatisfaction with the response of their employers in addressing their needs.

**Expired Contracts at Over 60 Hotels**

Contracts expired at more than 60 hotels at midnight on Friday, including properties owned by major chains like Marriott and Hilton. This strike affects approximately half of the 32,000 hospitality workers represented by the union in Southern California and Arizona.

**Successful Agreement Reached with Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites**

Last week, a major breakthrough was achieved when a tentative agreement was reached with the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown Los Angeles. This hotel, which employs over 600 union workers, agreed to higher pay and increased staffing levels. The union hailed this agreement as a significant victory for its members.

**Stalemate in Negotiations with Other Hotels**

However, negotiations with other hotels have reached a deadlock. A coalition of more than 40 hotels involved in talks accused union leaders of canceling a scheduled bargaining session and refusing to come to the table. The hotels have offered wage increases of $2.50 per hour in the first 12 months and $6.25 over four years. The hotel coalition criticized the union for maintaining its initial demand for up to a 40% wage increase and over 28% increase in benefit costs.

**Hotels Prepared to Operate During the Strike**

The work stoppage was anticipated, and the hotels are fully prepared to continue operating and taking care of their guests throughout the duration of the strike. The hotels have stated that they remain open for business and will handle the disruption caused by the strike.

In conclusion, hotel workers in Southern California have embarked on the largest strike in the history of Unite Here Local 11, demanding better pay, improved benefits, and a hospitality workforce housing fund. While an agreement has been reached with one major hotel, others have failed to come to a satisfactory resolution, leading to a stalemate in negotiations. The strike is expected to have a significant impact on the hospitality industry in the region.

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