For immediate release
January 26, 2011
As tourism industry bounces back, Koreatown hotel owner slahses wages as low as minimum wage
LOS ANGELES – Workers from the Wilshire Hotel are on strike today, after hotel owner Leo Lee slashed workers’ wages and benefits.
For example, Lee cut wages of workers earning about $10 an hour to the state’s minimum wage of $8 an hour, while others earning about $13.70 were cut to about $10 an hour. He also drastically cut workers’ healthcare benefits.
At the Wilshire Hotel, formerly the Wilshire Plaza, workers have been working under an expired contract since 2006. They have not received a wage raise in more than four years.
"After 14 years of service, I am furious," said Teresa Martinez, a 66-year-old housekeeper. "The housekeeping work I do has taken a serious toll on my body, and as a thank you, Mr. Lee slashed our wages and benefits. We are human. We deserve to be treated with respect."
The workers’ strike comes while more than 4,000 LA-area union hotel workers are without a contract in more than 20 hotels. Most of the contracts expired in November of 2009. Just two weeks ago, hotel workers at the Luxe City Center at LA Live also walked off the job in a one-day strike.
"Even while LA Inc. reports that the city’s tourism industry is bouncing back, the Wilshire Hotel is rolling back wages and benefits," said Tom Walsh, president of the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 11. "Tourism is LA County’s number-one job generating industry. If we allow it to become an industry of poverty jobs, the entire Southland economy will suffer."
The 385-room Wilshire Hotel is located at 3515 Wilshire Blvd in Koreatown.