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L.A. Hotel Protests

Starting from late June to early July, groups of migrant hotel workers located in Los Angeles (LA) began to protest for higher wages and better treatment in regard to retirement and health benefits. 

On August 8, 2023, approximately 11,000 workers went on strike. This strike was to protest low wages and employers’ solution to a lack of staff by having workers do unpaid overtime. 

According to NBC News, the strike that lasted 24 hours on August 8 had stopped many public services, such as the collection of trash, closed down public pools, etc. 

This strike was organized by Service Employees International Union Local 721. This union organized the strike so those who could afford to participate did, while a few workers would continue to work. 

The union ensured the strike would not affect emergency services so the police and fire departments would still be available for citizens. 

One of the reasons includes the city government breaking its agreement to discuss union proposals, which caused the union to organize the strike due to feeling disrespected. 

The current economy in LA has been another catalyst for this event. 

The workers are asking for raises to afford rising costs in the Los Angeles area, particularly rents. Los Angeles has some of the highest housing costs in the country, and landlords are raising rents and moving forward with evictions as pandemic protections for renters are being phased out,” said Marc Wutschke.

Many of these hotel workers are migrant workers as well, so their inherent benefits are usually lower than those that are more local to the area. 

“Salaries tend to be low since positions do not necessarily require high skills. Working conditions are often difficult, including night shifts and working during weekends. This is why jobs in hotels are not very attractive for the local population, especially in developed countries,” said the International Labour Organization. 

The Union asks for a raise of $5 for all contracts and $3 based on each contract. They also ask for better retirement and health care benefits. 

Throughout these protests, Taylor Swift performed the “Era’s Tour” in the So-Fi stadium during the first week of August. These shows coincided with the strike, which was counter-intuitive as it went against the union’s goal. 

“Some California politicians wrote to Swift this week urging her to cancel her shows in LA, which run from Thursday through August 9. The politicians said Swift’s shows would be money makers for the hotels they are battling,” said CNN Business. 

Few politicians directly messaged Swift about their concerns, however, the performances were not canceled or postponed. 

The strikes still continue to the present day and will possibly continue until the Union and the city government come to an agreement. There have been concerns about these protests and strikes lasting for longer than expected, putting a halt to the structure of LA as a large tourist city. 


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