Sen. Bernie Sanders joins picketers outside downtown LA hotel

Tim Caputo Image
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Sen. Bernie Sanders joins picketers outside downtown LA hotel
Sen. Bernie Sanders joined more than 100 people from a local union picketed outside Hotel Figueroa, hoping their rallying cry resonates with management of the downtown hotel.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- More than 100 people from the UNITE HERE Local 11 picketed outside Hotel Figueroa on Monday, hoping their rallying cry resonates with management of the downtown hotel and that ownership will agree to increase salaries and benefits for its employees.

They even brought in a heavy hitter for the working class: Sen. Bernie Sanders joined the rally, and while he's far from his home in Vermont, he's in his comfort zone backing everyday workers.

"You are what keep these hotels going. You deserve decent wages. You deserve decent benefits. You deserve decent healthcare. You deserve decent schedules. You deserve pensions," Sanders told the crowd.

Yajaira Reyes ended her shift at Hotel Figueroa and immediately joined the picket line, saying staying at her place of work for an extra few hours is warranted.

"It is necessary, because we've been fighting for this contract for a year already," said Reyes.

Thirty-five hotels have already reached agreements for higher wages and better benefits for its employees, but there are still a few dozen that haven't, including Hotel Figueroa.

"I'm happy for (employees at other hotels) because we're winning. Every hotel signing a contract is a win, but I'm sad because we're left behind, but we'll keep pushing," Reyes, who's worked at the hotel for 5 years, added.

Kurt Peterson, Co-President, UNITE HERE Local 11, touts the other agreements reached over the last year as a huge win, with a lot of work left to do.

"Half the hotels said yes. They've agreed to an extraordinary contract, they'll make $35 an hour in this contract. Hotel Figueroa don't want to pay it, and in fact, instead of paying it, they fired 100 workers who dared to speak up," Petersen said.

Peterson says that mass firing is now the center of a class action lawsuit filed by a former cook here.

We reached out to the hotel for comment about the picketing and civil suit, but they've not response.

The hope is this raucous rally brings hotel ownership to the negotiating table soon but if not, the fight wages on.

"We will keep striking. We've struck 160 times throughout the city and if we have to get to 200 to get all the hotels signed, that's what we'll do," emphasized Petersen.

Sanders told the large group, "All you are asking for is justice. You work hard and you want fair compensation. I just want to tell you that you are part of movement in this country, or workers joining unions, or organized unions demanding decent contracts and that's what's going on all over America. The message of today is we are sick and tired of the greed of corporate America."