LA workers feeling emboldened as unions pressure employers in California

LA workers feeling emboldened as unions pressure employers in California

In the two months since going on strike, screenwriters have formed a crowd outside studios in Southern California, holding up signs as traffic builds up. In many parts of America, he will have a lonely wake.

Not in Los Angeles.

At the sprawling ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, operations were disrupted for weeks until West Coast dockworkers reached a tentative contract agreement in mid-June. Across the city, schools closed for three days this spring when bus drivers, cafeteria workers and teachers walked out.

Now, a union representing about 15,000 hotel workers in Los Angeles is threatening to strike this Fourth of July weekend, just as the summer tourist season is ramping up. And more than 160,000 actors are set to shut down Hollywood productions if they can’t reach a new contract deal later this month.

Unions have faced struggles nationally, but they are facing some difficulties in California.

“We’re calling this a ‘hot labor summer,'” said Lorena Gonzalez, chief executive of the California Labor Federation, which represents more than 2.1 million union members statewide. “We have sparks and fires everywhere, and we are not going to let it die out in California. We are fanning the fire.”

California has long been a bastion of labor, with Democrats controlling state government and most major cities. Despite a series of labor victories in recent years — including a minimum wage of $15.50 an hour, more than double the federal rate — workers say they are feeling more pressure from inflation, housing shortages and technology disruptions. Are.

The unemployment rate in California has remained below 5 percent, so workers know they have benefits. And many contracts are expiring this year, forcing California employers to negotiate with unions as they watch daily strike demonstrations in Los Angeles. about half of mass stoppage It has been done in the state in 2023.

On Friday, a major contract for hotel workers expired, while the actors’ union said it would extend its expiring contract until July 12, giving it more time to continue talks.

However, hotel workers may walk out later this week. Kevin Klöden said hotel operators may be able to hold a walkout for a short period of time, but a longer stay could prevent tourists from visiting Los Angeles during the busy summer months and hurt convention business, Which has been active again since the beginning of the pandemic. , chief global strategist at the Milken Institute, an economic think tank based in Santa Monica, California.

The simultaneous strike by hotel workers, screenwriters and actors will first affect Los Angeles businesses that rely on the area’s major tourism and Hollywood industries. And they could have a wide impact beyond Los Angeles; The California economy lost $2.1 billion during the 2007 screenwriters’ strike, according to a guess,

The Hotel Association of Los Angeles said in a statement that it had entered into a good faith deal and would continue to serve tourists during the walkout. Keith Grossman, a spokesman for the coordinated bargaining group with more than 40 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange County, said in a statement that they have sought to raise wages for housekeepers in Beverly Hills and Downtown Los Angeles, who currently earn $25 an hour, to more than $25 an hour. offered. $31 per hour by January 2027.

Mr. Grossman said, “If there is a strike, it will be because the union is determined to strike.” “The Hotels want to continue to provide strong pay, affordable quality family health care and pensions.”

A recurring theme among striking workers this year has been the intolerable cost of living in Southern California. School staff said in March that they had to take two or three extra shows to pay their bills. Screenwriters have repeated that lament. A recent University of Southern California survey found that 60 percent of local renters said they were “burdened with rent,” spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

“How can anyone live here?” asked Lucero Ramirez, 37, who has been working as a housekeeper at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills since 2018.

On Thursday, Ms. Ramirez gathered inside an office space near downtown Los Angeles with dozens of other hotel workers represented by Unite Here Local 11 to decorate poster boards and glue together fliers ahead of a planned strike. Earlier that day, The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites announced that it had halted the walkout. a contract deal,

The union has requested that the hourly wage, which now ranges from $20 to $25 for housekeepers, be increased by $5 immediately, followed by a $3 increase in each subsequent year of the three-year contract. Hotel workers – and their employers – are well aware that the deal will set pay levels ahead of the 2026 World Cup and 2028 Olympics, when tourists will flood the region.

Ms. Ramirez, who earns $25 an hour, has lived for the past decade in a rent-controlled, one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood, where she pays $1,100 a month. The hot water often goes out and the floor in his unit is cracked and rotting, he said.

“The landlord wants me to leave so they can raise the rent,” she said. “They want to kick me out, but I can’t afford to go anywhere else, I have to leave town.”

The labor force is a function of voters in California, where Democrats have a nearly 2-to-1 edge over Republicans, supreme majority control of the state legislature, a lockout on state offices — and the debt of unions, whose members regularly strike. Gives door and money contributions to liberal candidates.

Next year, voters in California will consider an initiative that would raise the minimum wage to $18 an hour. In Los Angeles, City Council members are considering a plan that would increase the minimum wage for tourism workers to $25 an hour. Maria Elena Durazo, a Democratic state senator and former head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, is introducing legislation that would make all health care workers a minimum wage of $25 an hour.

Thousands of unionized teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest district, won a major pay raise this year after their high-profile walkout in March.

Smaller labor actions have also sprung up, including strippers organizing a North Hollywood club in May. amazon drivers are walking out In June at a warehouse in Palmdale, Calif. los angeles dodgers called off the strike By giving significant wage increases to ushers, grounds guards and other workers.

Nationwide, union membership as a percentage of the labor force fell to a record low of 10.1 percent for employed wage and salary workers. However, in California, such membership increased to 2,000 last year. 16.1 percent of wage and salary workerscompared to 15.9 percent in 2021.

“It’s a tug-of-war between inflation and wages,” said Sung Won Sohn, professor of finance and economics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Inflation is winning and workers are trying to catch inflation that has persisted.”

Nancy Hoffman Vanyke, chief executive of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, which represents about 400 businesses ranging from one-person operations to Hollywood studios, said workers should be able to afford to live in Los Angeles. But he said forcing employers to pay more is a Band-Aid for a much deeper problem in California.

“It’s the business that always has to bear the brunt of fixing these issues when we don’t look at what caused them,” he said. “What is causing the high cost of living in our state? What is the reason for the high cost of housing?

Workers nationally are trying to profit from the job market, which remains tight, as employers prepare for a possible recession. Rail workers were on the verge of going on strike last year, while workers at manufacturing companies such as John Deere and Kellogg went on strike until late 2021.

In California, the activism has been spearheaded by white-collar workers whose jobs are threatened by the rise of artificial intelligence and the gig economy.

“It’s remarkable the extent to which they’re getting support from other unions,” said Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “There’s a newfound sense of commonality between the retail clerk who’s asked to come in every other day from 3 to 7 and the screenwriter who’s suddenly offered to write seven episodes and then, goodbye.”

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

16 + = 17