For immediate release
June 18, 2009
Pilar Weiss, [email protected]
1,000 Tourism Workers Take to the Streets at LAX to Launch Campaign as Height of the Los Angeles Tourist Season Approaches
Union Contract Expirations Loom for 10,000 Los Angeles Hotel and Tourism Workers
Workers Demand Good Jobs to Help Rebuild the Los Angeles Economy
1,000 tourism workers took to the streets today near LAX in a protest marking the beginning of a citywide contract campaign. As Los Angeles enters the height of the tourism season, union contracts that mandate good wages, guaranteed wage increases, free family health insurance and job security are set to expire for 10,000 Los Angeles tourism and hotel workers. The tourism industry in Los Angeles is the backbone of the Los Angeles economy; tourists spent $14.2 billion in 2007 and hotel revenue was over $2.5 billion in 2007.
Now, as Los Angeles, as well as the rest of the country, contemplates how to recover from the current economic crisis, city leaders warn that we risk failure by losing sight of the need to ensure that good jobs are part of the equation for recovery. "With the economy in crisis, we face critical choices. Working families are on the brink of falling into poverty. It is important that the tourism industry create good sustainable jobs. I have long said that all boats can rise together. If the tourism industry provides good wages and good benefits, happy workers will create happy customers. And happy customers will drive profits and help jumpstart our economy," said Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl.
Good jobs create a stronger Los Angeles. The extra income due to the higher wages and free family health insurance directly benefits local communities because wages are reinvested into the local economy. As wages increase, more families reinvest their wages in the community. Workers and their families spend more money at local businesses, thereby boosting the local economy. Thus, good jobs fuel discretionary spending and investment, which increases demand for more products, creates more jobs, and helps to perpetuate this same cycle.
Annual wages for housekeepers in LA County in 2008 were $21,672 a year for housekeepers in the hotel industry, according the state’s Economic Development Department. Wages for union tourism workers are much higher. The annual wage for LA County union housekeepers whose contracts expire in 2009 is $26,978.
Local 11 estimates that between December 2006 and December 2009, during the life of the Local 11 union contracts, the 4,106 workers covered by union contracts earned an estimated $63.7 million dollars more in wages compared to their non-union counterparts. This extra income directly benefited local communities as workers then reinvested an estimated $43.8 million of this $63.7 million back into the local community which created an additional $14.9 million in discretionary spending for local communities and created the need for an additional 482 new jobs during the life of the contract.
Even in the midst of this recession, employers can do the right thing for their workers, for Los Angeles and for the country. The hotels on the Century Blvd. are a testament to this. Four hotels have recently signed union contracts, the Westin LAX, Sheraton Gateway, Radisson LAX, and the Four Points LAX. The Radisson LAX was the last hotel to sign a contract. The Radisson LAX contract gives workers living wages, guaranteed wage increases and free family health insurance.
But there are also employers that have chosen to take the path of paying poverty wages that further deepens our economic crisis. Workers at the LAX Hilton have been subjected to suspensions, interrogations, and other retaliation for trying to organize a union and the hotel is currently under boycott by workers and the union.
"We are prepared to fight for the future of our families and our city. Good jobs that pay living wages, have guaranteed wage increases and affordable health insurance allow us to better provide for our families and are also good for the community," said Ana Cortez, a housekeeper at the Beverly Hilton.