Thousands of city workers in Los Angeles abandoned their jobs Tuesday in a one-day strike, calling attention to their claims of unfair labor practices and what they say is the city's unwillingness to bargain in good faith. The strike is the first work stoppage for employees in America's second-largest city in more than 40 years. About 11,000 city workers for SEIU Local 721, including sanitation workers, heavy-duty mechanics and engineers at the Los Angeles International Airport, custodians at public schools and lifeguards are staged the walkout and took to picket lines early Tuesday.
Shouts of “No contract, No peace,” pounding drums, and a raucous band pierced the usually quiet, tony city of Beverly Hills, California, as 250 hotel workers picketed the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria on July 26. The primarily Latino crowd then marched several blocks down Wilshire Boulevard to picket the posh Beverly Wilshire hotel entrance, flowing around Porsches, black Cadillac SUVs, and a Mercedes Maybach containing a terrified pug. The Beverly Hills action was part of the third wave of strikes against 62 hotels in southern California after contracts expired June 30.
By law, the American Hotel in downtown Los Angeles is supposed to be reserved for residents who can’t afford to live anywhere else. For decades, the building was a haven in the city’s sky-high housing market, where artists, musicians and people down on their luck could rent rooms for about $500 a month. At the end of the day, longtime tenants would hang out at Al’s Bar, a legendary punk and alternative rock venue on the ground floor where bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers played long before they sold out stadiums. But amid the largest homelessness crisis in the nation, the American’s owner has turned the building into a boutique hotel where tourists can book rooms for as much as $209 a night.
Several thousand hotel workers in Los Angeles walked off the job Monday morning over wages and staffing levels in the latest escalation of a heated labor dispute in the region. The strikes are affecting major hotels near Los Angeles International Airport, disrupting businesses and domestic and international travelers during the peak of summer. Wages in high-cost Southern California are a key point of contention between hotels and Unite Here Local 11, the union representing hospitality workers. Workers say they are commuting from hours away because they cannot afford to live where they work. They are seeking an immediate $5-an-hour raise, followed by additional increases.
On June 22, nearly 200 workers, union leaders, progressive politicians, and other community members were arrested in a mass civil disobedience action. 200 demonstrators sat down in the middle of the road in Los Angeles, subjecting themselves to arrest to demand better wages, pensions, a housing fund, benefits, and safer workloads for UNITE HERE Local 11 workers in Los Angeles. Workers are gearing up to possibly strike after their contract with Hyatt, IHG, Hilton and Marriott hotels in LA expires on June 30. Local 11 workers authorized a strike on June 8 with 96% approval. This strike would involve over 15,000 union hotel workers, the largest hotel strike in modern US history.
When Los Angeles educators joined school support staff on the picket lines last month, our solidarity strike helped them clinch a contract with a 30 percent raise. Riding that wave, yesterday educators reached a tentative agreement of our own, with a 21 percent raise, smaller classes, and improved staffing. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho had scoffed in February when support staff voted by 96 percent to authorize a strike. On Twitter he belittled the threat as empty theatrics. “1, 2, 3…Circus,” he wrote, “a predictable performance with a known outcome, desiring of nothing more than an applause, a coin, and a promise of a next show.” But fast-forward one month, and the joke was on him.
Los Angeles, California - “We should have been miserable,” said Emily Grijalva, recalling the first days of the 2019 strike by Los Angeles teachers. Grijalva, who is currently the community school and restorative justice coordinator at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School, joined her colleagues on the picket line in 2019 despite the biting cold and an unusual, prolonged rainstorm that flooded city streets and sidewalks and drenched picketers. Many of them did not wear, much less own, suitable rain gear for their normally sunny, mild Southern California climate. “But even through the rain and cold, we felt togetherness and support from the community.
Los Angeles, California - 65,000 workers from Service Employees International Union Local 99 and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) began a three-day strike on Tuesday, March 21. SEIU Local 99 workers are striking amidst contract negotiations around higher salaries, more full-time work schedules, better treatment, and more staffing. The SEIU workers represent a broad cross section of school staff, such as bus drivers, custodians, campus aides, and cafeteria workers. The union claims that apart from refusing to budge on key workers’ demands such as a 30% raise and more full time hours, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is also harassing and threatening workers for participating in union activity.
Los Angeles, California - Following weeks of uncharacteristically gloomy days, the weather broke late in the afternoon on Wednesday, March 15, seemingly in preparation for the 4:30 PM Unite for Los Angeles Schools rally in Grand Park outside City Hall. The gathered crowd buzzed with excitement and righteous indignation. Drums and horns sounded, signs and t-shirts were given out and street vendors peddled everything from cotton candy to tacos, making the event feel more like a music festival than a rally. Our headliners? Leaders from two of the largest unions in Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles, California - On Wednesday March 15, tens of thousands of teachers and education workers rallied at the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. The joint rally of K-12 teachers (UTLA) and education support staff (SEIU 99) was organized to announce plans for both unions to go on strike, with SEIU 99 taking the lead in the fight for better wages, improved staff to student ratios, and an end to harassment by administrators. The mood was lively, with a mariachi band made up of teachers playing for the crowd, teachers and support staff dancing to the music, and pockets of teachers and education workers striking up impromptu chants and banging on homemade drums.
Los Angeles, California - When a wealthy donor left four L.A. apartment buildings to his alma mater upon his death, it left the 130 tenants of those buildings wondering if they were going to be evicted or have their rents hiked. But on Jan. 10, tenants of the buildings in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood secured a major win when Boston University agreed to sell all four apartments to the Liberty Community Land Trust, which plans to keep the units permanently affordable. “Boston University accepted our offer because of the collective pressure we put them under as a collective, as a community,” tenants wrote on their Instagram page. “When we fight, we win!!!” The four buildings, World War II-era garden-style apartments, two of which are on Corbin Street and two on Clemson Street, were owned by BU alumnus Frederick Pardee, who left them to the school after his death.
Large demonstrations on the east and west coasts of the US took place yesterday calling for the end of the Blockade of Cuba as the annual vote in the General Assembly of the UN approaches this week. This will mark the 30th occasion when the overwhelming majority of countries of the world will stand up together in solidarity with the people of Cuba in their defiant struggle and dignified struggle against US imperialism. In New York over 200 people marched from Times Square, across busy 42nd Street, to the US-UN office on 1st Avenue demanding that Cuba be taken off Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, a measure designed to suffocate every aspect of Cuba’s ability to access the world market, to end all trade and travel restrictions and to end the over 62-year-old illegal blockade of the island.
Los Angeles, California - In the coming weeks, Los Angelenos will vote on a ballot measure to hike taxes on the sale of multimillion dollar properties, with the expected near-billion dollars in annual revenue going towards addressing the housing crisis in the second-largest city in America. The initiative has been strongly opposed by real estate interests — from huge corporate landlords to realtor lobbying groups and pro-business groups — who have so far poured more than $5 million into efforts to defeat the measure. Measure ULA, which would increase real estate transfer taxes on properties in the city of Los Angeles valued at $5 million or more, would only apply to an estimated four percent of real estate transactions annually.
Los Angeles, California - After increasing nearly 25% between 2018 and 2020, the homeless population in the Los Angeles area has grown more slowly over the past two years. According to the latest count from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, L.A. County’s unhoused population grew from 66,436 in 2020 to 69,144 in 2022, an increase of 4.1%. While there are numerous reasons for this downtrend, government intervention has played an important role. Such measures as Project Roomkey, which used federal, state and local funds to keep more than 10,000 residents in hotels and motels during the Covid-19 pandemic, showed that even modest public programs can make a significant impact on the city’s housing crisis, even as the initiative’s remaining residents lost their housing at the end of September.
Los Angeles, California - As hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Los Angeles to City Hall on Saturday afternoon, they made sure everyone knew they were Oaxacan and proud. Their signs boasted pueblos like San Bartolomé Zoogocho, Santa María Xochixtepec and Santiago Zoochila. Brass bands played ‘sones’ and ‘jarabes,’ representing the music tied to their identity. Their chants rang out through the streets: “Se ve, se siente, Oaxaca está presente.” “You see it, you feel it, Oaxaca is present.” Among those in the crowd was Blanca Ruiz, 23, who referred to herself as a “Koreatown Chaparrita,” a nod to her neighborhood and short stature. Ruiz’s family is from Oaxaca and the young woman works with Oaxacan youth. “Any hurtful words, this cures it,” Ruiz said, as she looked around at her fellow Oaxaqueños. “This heals my heart.”