Little did the Coming Clean conference attendees (including PSR-LAʼs Martha Arguello and Emily Snider) know when they left by bus for their “L.A. toxic tour” on Saturday that they would return to find a picket of 75 hotel workers blocking the driveway.
Being forced to cross a union picket line does not bode well with a passionate group of progressive environmental justice advocates and activists—particularly since the group had contracted with the hotel under the condition of its union status. After the initial shock of this unexpected event wore off, it became quickly apparent that the critical mass of our group—and our position as guests of the hotel offered a powerful opportunity to support the hotel workers by taking action both in the lobby and on the street. Current management at the hotel is seeking to break the union by cutting their wages as much as in half and eliminating health care benefits entirely.
In addition to negotiating with the Manager and General Manager, Coming Clean conference goers called the press, released statements, displayed signs and buttons and added volume to the union chant: “Se ve, se siente la union esta presente!!” (translation: See us! Feel us! The union is here.) As the picket wrapped up, Martha Arguello was handed the megaphone to address the crowd in both Spanish and English with a message of solidarity. Hotel workers responded enthusiastically “Si se puede!”
Follow-up action is being taken by PSR-LA and other Coming Clean member organizations to support UNITE HERE Local 11 by sending letters and boycotting the hotel until a union contract is negotiated. The April 18 Integrated Pest Management workshop that PSR-LA scheduled to take place on at the Wilshire Plaza was moved to an alternate union-approved venue.