Hotel union can’t take credit for industry recovery in Los Angeles County – Daily News

Heading into the holiday weekend, business is looking up for Los Angeles County’s hotel industry. Thousands of hotel employees have returned to work following the pandemic. Overall, there were about 37,000 more hospitality jobs in July 2022 compared to the same time last year.

Hotel worker union Unite Here Local 11 would like to take credit for this recovery. Union co-president Susan Minato recently boasted, “We are proud of the work we have done…to put people back to work in good union jobs.”

But the union is far from deserving a standing ovation. A recent report released by the Center for Union Facts details how Local 11 spent more time looking out for its own interests rather than protecting workers during the pandemic.

It turns out the union actually fought against federal aid for the hospitality industry, pushed to keep hotels from reopening safely, and potentially even exploited the Paycheck Protection Program.

In May 2021, Unite Here Local 11 sent a letter to Congress establishing its “firm opposition to the ‘Save Hotel Jobs Act,'” decrying it as a “federal handout” to the hospitality industry. The bill in question — which was introduced by a Democratic senator and had the support of the Unite Here International — provided “new grants and tax credits to help pay hotel employees, bring back laid-off workers, and ensure safe workplaces.” Apparently, this didn’t seem like a good plan to the union.

Instead, the union recently threw its weight behind California’s Hospitality Workers Right to Return law, an ambiguously-worded mandate that it has subsequently used to target disadvantaged hotels.

In December 2020, Local 11 called for a second lockdown – including hotel closures. At the time, unemployment in the tourism and hospitality industry — the very industry Local 11’s members primarily make up — was at 90 percent. Los Angeles County had instituted reopening protocols that addressed health and safety, meaning hospitality workers could return to their jobs safely. But the union still fought to keep members unemployed. Meanwhile, Local 11 was still happy to send in-person canvassers to Georgia, where a contentious Senate race was taking place.

The union also raised the cost of dues for its struggling members during the pandemic. It’s worth noting that none of the union’s co-presidents took a substantial pay cut – even when the vast majority of union members were unemployed.

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