LONG BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Faith community leaders in Long Beach have announced plans for a “truth commission” concerning a violent episode that took place at the Maya Hotel on August 5 as striking workers sought to peacefully picket for better wages and conditions.
During the episode, hotel security and guests sought to forcibly relocate picketing workers using a chain link fence, while a guest came around the fence and punched one worker in the head. Multiple workers were injured.
“Our contracts expired June 30 earlier this summer,” said David Ventura, a bellman at the Hotel Maya. “I have stood with my coworkers and gone out on strike to raise the wages for all of us. I make $16 an hour and it isn’t enough to get by. And then to see my hotel turn on us while we’re striking has been devastating.”
UNITE HERE Local 11, the workers’ union, and community supporters have publicly called the company to account and won the support of local leaders. In response, last month the chairman of the hotel owner reportedly sent a letter addressed to Long Beach City Council criticizing the council members for supporting workers’ call for a boycott of the hotel. However, the company’s version of events was later called into question when the union released a widely circulated video of the violent episode.
On September 27, workers, clergy, and other Long Beach community leaders will gather to hear testimony from workers who were present and experienced violence on the picket line at the Hotel Maya.
“It is of vital importance that we support the Hotel Maya workers and their right to peacefully protest,” said Rev. Cynthia “Wally” Hoeger, Designated Associate Minister of First Congregational Church of Long Beach. “We are committed to walking alongside them as they collectively work to negotiate a living wage. The violence and threats against these workers are absolutely unacceptable.”
UNITE HERE Local 11 has also filed a federal labor charge against the hotel in August alleging that the hotel used or condoned violence during the August 5 picket line.
The dispute at the Hotel Maya is part of a broader labor dispute involving what has become the largest hotel worker strike in modern history. On August 14, UNITE HERE Local 11 announced a boycott at the Hotel Maya, Laguna Cliffs Marriott, and the Fairmont Miramar because of violence against workers at these hotels. A week later, UNITE HERE Local 11 announced a boycott of all Los Angeles hotels until the labor dispute is resolved. Hotel workers across Southern California and Arizona have been working without a contract since July 1, 2023.
Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11 adds, “Our members have taken the step to ask the public not to ‘eat, sleep, or meet’ at the Hotel Maya, and also at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica and Laguna Cliffs Marriott – where workers have been subjected to violence while protesting for fair wages. Thank you to CLUE and its allies for refusing to let this violence be swept under the rug.”
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice educates, organizes, and mobilizes the faith community to accompany workers and their families in their struggle for good jobs, dignity, and justice.
UNITE HERE Local 11 is the union of more than 32,000 workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas & convention centers in So. California & Arizona.