VICTORY in Santa Monica: An Update on SM Hotel Workers’ Struggle

L to R: Linda van Ligten, Jacki Weber, Cathie Gentile

On April 26, 2024, CLUE announced that five  more Santa Monica area hotels have signed with UNITE HERE Local 11, raising the area-wide total to 46 agreements. ALL of the union hotels in Santa Monica — Fairmont Miramar, Le Merigot, Proper, Viceroy Santa Monica, Le Méridien Delfina, Hampton Inn & Suites Santa Monica, Hilton Santa Monica, and Courtyard Santa Monica — have agreed to provide life-changing wages, benefits, and other historic protections to their workers.

In the Unite Here! Local 11 press release, Patricia Ibañez, a UNITE HERE Local 11 leader and housekeeper of 17 years at Le Méridien Delfina in Santa Monica, said, “I am so proud of my coworkers for sticking together through this fight. It took grit, blood, sweat and tears, but we did it! I am excited to go back to my job after being suspended. The immense support I received from my coworkers and other community members inspired me to never give up. This is going to change my life.”

The new contract has the largest economic increases of any industry-wide contract in the last 30 years.

  • $5.00 an hour raise in the first year; workers will have $10,400 more to pay for rent, to feed their families
  • 40 to 50% wage increases for non tipped workers over the 4.5 year term of the agreement
  • Most room attendants will earn $35.00 an hour by July 1, 2027
  • Guaranteed pre-pandemic staffing levels and mandatory daily room cleaning
  • One of the highest paid pension plans for service workers in nation
  • 50 pages of improvements, including Juneteenth as a paid holiday, unprecedented language for the fair treatment of workers impacted by the criminal justice system and protections of immigrant rights.

The contract will expire January 15, 2028, just before the world turns its attention on Los Angeles for the XXXIV Olympiad.

More than 10,000 workers at 52 hotels have struck 170 times so far in the largest strike in the history of the nation’s hospitality industry.

The membership has resolved to continue striking and boycotting until all hotels, including the Hotel Figueroa, all of the boycotted Aimbridge properties like the Doubletree Downtown Los Angeles that have not yet signed, and the LA Grand, the site of the city-operated Inside Safe Program.

According to the email victory announcement from CLUE Santa Monica/Westside Committee, a celebration will be held at their May committee meeting taking place at Saint Monica Catholic Church (725 California Avenue) on Tuesday, May 14 at 10 AM.

But in the meantime, I invite you to immerse yourself in the joy of this hard-earned and hard-fought victory, and embrace the memories of every action you attended and act of solidarity and generosity you gave, that helped make this possible. Every bit of food delivered to a picket line, every bang of the dream, all the steps we got in our feet while walking the picket line and marching across the city, every time we offered the hospitality of our own churches, every time we listened to and offered humanity and solidarity with workers, and so much more for almost a year in a half — all of us helped make this possible, and now we know that the sky’s the limit for justice!

¡Sí se pudo! – Yes we did!

From January 2024 —

by Jacki Weber

In November 2023, a half-dozen members of the UU Congregation of Santa Monica joined nearly 100 Santa Monica faith leaders, community members, and hospitality workers at St. Augustine By-The-Sea for a Santa Monica Truth Commission hosted by CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice).

They bore witness to the injustices against workers at Santa Monica hotels like Fairmont Miramar, the Viceroy, and Le Méridien Delfina at an interfaith Truth Commission hearing.

Out of the hearing, a letter to the City of Santa Monica was drafted. 

In the absence of action by the city, CLUE is asking you to sign and help circulate the petition demanding a city investigation. It doesn’t matter where you live. As a member of UUSM, you are a Santa Monica stakeholder and your signature has weight.

The Truth Commission letter called on the city to investigate the exploitation of unhoused workers brought in to replace striking workers at Le Méridien Delfina, and company retaliation against striking workers at the Viceroy and Le Méridien Delfina. (The original letter also included a request for investigation into violence and retaliation at the Fairmont Miramar, but the hotel has since made amends with workers and settled a tentative agreement.)

Many members of our UUSM Congregation have been connected to the current hospitality workers campaign for living wages and fair working conditions across Southern California, including more than five hotels in Santa Monica. 

Almost half of the hotels have now reached tentative agreements with workers. But only one of the Santa Monica hotels has done so. An update is available here!

Negotiations with management began in Spring 2023. In June 2023, UUSM Member Jacki Weber was arrested on Century Boulevard in an act of civil disobedience! She was cheered on by fellow church members Cathie Gentile and Linda van Ligten.

Beginning in July, more members began bringing food and drink to striking workers at the Fairmont Miramar, Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn, Le Méridien Delfina, the Viceroy and hotels beyond Santa Monica.

They have joined marches at many of the 60 hotels across Los Angeles and Orange Counties. They have rallied with workers on the picket lines. They have made calls to management. They have stayed home from holiday parties, refusing to eat, meet, or stay at boycotted hotels, and more.

You can join those who are already on board. Contact Jacki Weber, Linda van Ligten, or Cathie Gentile (in the church directory) for more information on how you can get involved!