For immediate release
October 10, 2011
Hotel Bel-Air’s Laid-Off Workers Call for their Jobs Back, Announce Massive Protests for Bel-Air’s Opening Weekend
Workers launch boycott, ask community not to eat, sleep or meet in Hotel Bel-Air
LOS ANGELES–Former Hotel Bel-Air employees fighting for their jobs back are planning a major march on Hotel Bel-Air’s opening day, workers and clergy announced today, Oct. 10, at a press conference outside the hotel.
The Hotel Bel-Air will re-open on Oct. 14 after a multi-million dollar renovation. Organizers are asking protest participants to meet at Hotel Bel-Air at 4:30 PM for picketing, followed by a march through the Bel-Air neighborhood down to Sunset Blvd, where a rally will take place.
About 500 hotel workers from around the city are expected to gather at the hotel. Organizers have also invited OCCUPY LA protesters. Buses will leave from City Hall to take protesters to the Hotel Bel-Air at 3:30 PM on Friday, Oct. 14.
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.
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."
The hotel’s ultimate owner is the Brunei Investment Agency, an agency of the government of Brunei, a small nation in Southeast Asia. And Brunei is ruled by its Sultan, one of the richest men in the world.