LOS ANGELES – Workers from the California Club, one of downtown LA’s oldest private clubs, walked off the job today, Thursday, Dec. 15, in a one-day strike. As corporate profits soar and the economy rebounds for the rich, workers are striking in protest of management’s demand to freeze wages for six months.
Workers are asking for small wage increases over the next three years to keep up with the cost of living and stay on par with the Jonathan Club, a similar venue. Currently California Club dishwashers and housekeepers make less than $29,000 a year.
The California Club is a membership-based organization made up of LA’s elite. It’s website claims members are leaders in business, industry and government.
"This is just another example of the rich squeezing the poor," said Felipe Sanchez, a California Club cook of 15 years. "Last year the Club renovated its second floor, knocking down walls and replacing carpet. The rich can afford to invest in fine art and expensive rugs, but not us."
The Club also boasts "fine antiques, handcrafted furniture and rich imported fabrics bespeak the substance, grace and elegance of the Clubhouse."
In recent years workers have been sympathetic to the Club’s claims that a sour economy had left the urban country club with less cash on hand. In 2009, workers agreed to a wage freeze and in 2010 made changes to their healthcare benefits to contain costs.
Now workers say it’s time to for California Club’s 1 percent to recognize the workers’ sacrifice.
"We’re not asking for much," said Gustavo Sanchez, a cook of 24 years. "All over the news, corporate profits are higher than ever, but working people are expected to keep suffering. We have families to feed. We demand better."
The California Club workers’ union contract expired in September 2011.