For immediate release
October 14, 2011
Laid-Off Hotel Bel-Air Workers and OCCUPY LA to Protest Hotel Bel-Air’s Refusal to Bring Back 100+ Staff
Workers, Students, Community Members Condemn Bad Behavior of 1%
What: Protest & March beginning at Hotel Bel-Air and ending on Sunset Blvd
When: Friday, Oct. 14 — Picket line in front of hotel starts at 4:30 pm; March at 5:30 pm; Rally on Sunset Blvd & Stone Canyon Road at 6 pm
Where: Hotel Bel-Air – 701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles, CA
Who: About 400 hotel workers, students, OCCUPY LA
Why: The Hotel Bel-Air re-opens for business on Friday, Oct. 14 after a multi-million dollar renovation, but many of the laid-off employees are struggling to get their jobs back. The Hotel does not have a contract with UNITE HERE Local 11.
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 Wilshire Grand and Beverly Hilton, Hotel Bel-Air refused to guarantee that workers, some of whom 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 not been hired. The Hotel did not negotiate a new contract with Local 11 before it closed and does not have a contract covering its staff now.
The hotel is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an agency of the government of Brunei. The nation is ruled by its Sultan, one of the richest men in the world. OCCUPY LA has pledged to send protesters in support of the former Bel-Air workers. Buses will transport protesters from City Hall on Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm.
"I worked in the Hotel Bel-Air’s laundry for 20 years. Guests trusted me with their most important possessions, from wedding gowns to Oscar dresses," said Irma Zavala, an unemployed former Hotel Bel-Air worker. "I thought I would be hired back. The Hotel Bel-Air treats the swans better than the people."
Workers have called for a boycott of the hotel and are asking the public not to eat, sleep or meet in Hotel Bel-Air.
Thomas 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.
"The Hotel Bel-Air is known for its five-star service — not its linens, furniture or ponds," said Walsh, "The Bel-Air is treating the workers like dated sofas, throwing them out in the garbage."