DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With the COVID-19 pandemic mostly behind us, Los Angeles hospitality workers from UNITE HERE! Local 11 say they want to be fairly compensated for helping to keep the industry afloat.
On Good Friday, groups focused on those workers during a "Stations of the Worker's Cross" event as more than 100 labor contracts between UNITE HERE! Local 11 and hotels, stadiums, and food service locations are set to expire.
"We're in this unprecedented moment right now, not only preparing to renegotiate their contracts, preparing to potentially go on strike, but to build power for themselves in their communities," said Matthew Hom, a faith-rooted organizer for the group Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, also known as CLUE.
The 14 stops were across different parts of downtown L.A., including several hotels were many of those employees work.
Norma Reyes, who cleans more than 2,000 dishes by hand on any given day, said it's cruel when one becomes a senior and can no longer be independent.
She currently makes $18.04 an hour and said as a single mother, she's had to borrow from others to make ends meet.
"The hospitality industry has completely recovered," said UNITE HERE! Local 11 President Kurt Petersen. "In fact, profits are beyond what they were in 2019. So, they've exceeded pre-pandemic, profits and prosperity."
UNITE HERE! Local 11 represents more than 30,000 hotel and food service workers in Southern California and Arizona. The group said in SoCal, too many can't afford to live anywhere near their work.
"This industry needs to step up, not only on the wage side, but also on helping us figure out how do we get more housing for hospitality workers and other workers in the city," Petersen.
The first session of bargaining is set to begin later this month.