Workers on strike at Pasadena hotels ahead of Rose Parade

Workers at two Pasadena hotels went on strike Sunday, protesting for better pay and more staff, as preparations were made for the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

Members of Unite Here Local 11, which represents a variety of hotel workers, including housekeepers and cooks, walked out at dawn Sunday and will continue the strike Monday at the Hilton Pasadena and the Hyatt Place Pasadena, the spokeswoman said. María Teresa Kamel union.

On Sunday morning, dozens of people picketed outside the two hotels, chanting “If possible!” – “Yes, we can” – and tents were set up for some protesters who planned to camp overnight.

The union chose this weekend for the strike because “it’s probably the biggest tourist event in Pasadena,” he said. The workers decided that “if they are expected to work on such a busy weekend, they should be compensated with a fair contract.”

Unite Here is calling for an immediate wage increase of $5 an hour and a return to “pre-pandemic staffing levels,” which have not recovered despite the resurgence of the hotel business, Kamel said.

“We have many workers who do the work of two or three people for the same salary they received before,” he said. The union has also expressed concern about pensions.

The Hilton Pasadena is among several hotels involved in talks with the union that are operated by Aimbridge Hospitality, which said in a statement it was “continuing discussions with the union and will continue[s] focused on reaching an agreement that puts our associates and their best interests at the center.”

“While these conversations continue, the hotel has processes in place to limit disruption and ensure consistent service and exceptional guest experiences at all times,” Aimbridge said in its statement.

Hyatt Place Pasadena is owned and operated by private equity firm Ensemble. Hyatt and Ensemble did not immediately respond to messages Sunday seeking comment on the strike and union demands.

Joseph Co, general manager of Hyatt Place Pasadena, told the Pasadena Star-News that the hotel has been “actively participating in talks with the union” and “continues to honor the expired union contract and its union employees as it seeks to reach a new agreement.” agreement.”

A representative of the Hotel Association. of Los Angeles declined to comment.

Housekeeper Andrea Zepeda, who has worked more than a year and a half at Hyatt Place Pasadena, said she had struggled to make ends meet on about $18 an hour. She cares for two of her grandchildren and pays $1,800 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment, she said.

“The money is not enough,” he said in Spanish. “Everything is very expensive (food, bills) and costs are increasing.” Zepeda also said staffing shortages had increased pressure on him at work to clean up to 15 rooms before the end of his shift without being offered overtime.

Pasadena hotels fill up each year for the Rose Parade, which began in 1890 as a promotional event for a local social club and has become a beloved tradition. Hundreds of campers flock the day before to find available first-come, first-served sidewalk seating along the parade route. Those working on floats or participating in the parade look for breakfast spots in the early morning hours of January 1.

While workers do not plan to picket the Rose Bowl itself, the hotels’ proximity means parade-goers will likely notice the picketing, union officials said. Dozens of other hotels have reached tentative agreements with Unite Here Local 11 since their contracts expired in July, but these two have not, Kamel said.

“Our problem is not with the Rose Bowl,” he said. But “it has been more difficult to negotiate with private equity groups than with other hotels.”

Times staff writer Suhauna Hussain contributed to this report.

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