As Los Angeles’ Hotel Bel-Air sets to reopen on October 14, former employees are fighting for their jobs back. In Fall 2009, the management abruptly announced it would completely shut down and layoff all employees on the day the workers’ union contract expired.
Unlike hotels such as the Wilshire Grand, Beverly Hilton and more, the Bel-Air refused to guarantee that workers, many who had given 15 or 20 years of service to the hotel, would be able to come back to work. More than 100 workers who have re-applied for their old jobs have been refused or are waiting to hear from the hotel.
In addition to a rally and press conference held on October 10, workers also called for a boycott of the tony hotel, asking that members of the community and out-of-town guests not meet, sleep or eat at Hotel Bel-Air.
"For five years, I worked as the assistant to the banquets manager, handling special events for celebrities and dignitaries who paid top-dollar for excellent service and privacy, and I was very good at my job. But shortly after I re-applied for my old position, I got a postcard in the mail from the Bel-Air saying the hotel is ‘pursuing other candidates with who better match the job qualifications.’ I feel insulted and hurt," said Martin Tabares, a former Bel-Air employee.
Tom Walsh, president of the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 11, said the union and the workers have no intention of letting this out-of-town company bully workers who took the hotel from a four-star to five-star establishment.
"It is not the curtains, furniture or the flat-screen TVs that make the Hotel Bel-Air so special, it’s the top-notch service provided for decades by these workers," said Walsh, "The Bel-Air is treating the workers like dated sofas, throwing them out in the garbage."