Los Angeles hotel workers strike over wages, housing


(Reuters) - Thousands of hotel workers in Los Angeles, California, went on strike on Sunday morning as they pushed for better wages and benefits, kicking off what was expected to be one of the largest U.S. hotel strikes in recent history.

Unite Here Local 11, which represents thousands of cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen and front desk agents at hotels in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, said in a statement that union workers were struggling to afford housing in the cities where they worked and had suffered job cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic while industry profits soared.

A union spokesperson said workers at hotels across the region including the InterContinental and Hotel Indigo had walked off the job on Sunday, during a busy weekend ahead of the July Fourth holiday.

IHG Hotels and Resorts (IHG.L) , which operates the InterContinental and Hotel Indigo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Contracts expired June 30 at 62 Southern California hotels, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Westin Bonaventure, the biggest hotel in Los Angeles, came to an agreement with its workers just a day before the expiration, the union said.

The union is seeking a hospitality workforce housing fund and is asking for better wages, healthcare benefits, pension, and safer workloads, the statement said.

Ninety-six percent of hotel workers had voted to authorize a strike on June 8.

The Los Angeles area has been the scene of other strikes or walkout threats in recent months.

In the entertainment sector, Hollywood writers walked off the job in early May as their union contract expired. Actors belonging to the SAG-AFTRA union temporarily averted a strike as the union and major studios agreed on Friday to continue negotiations through mid-July.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Mary Milliken and Josie Kao

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