Some 50 California hotels strike as union reaches deal with Laguna Cliffs

The Laguna Cliffs Marriott hotel on Wednesday reached a tentative agreement with the union representing hotel workers in Southern California who have been striking on and off for nearly four months.

The deal came on a particularly active day for workers represented by Unite Here Local 11, as the union launched its largest work stoppage yet. Early this week, workers at seven properties kicked off the latest burst of strikes, said union spokesperson Maria Hernandez. On Wednesday, workers at dozens of other hotels across Los Angeles and Orange counties walked off the job, bringing the total number of hotels on strike to about 50.

Thousands of the striking hotel workers flocked to downtown L.A. Wednesday morning, crowding the L.A. Live complex, snaking around the nearby J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton, and blocking traffic.

Workers at Laguna Cliffs were among those on strike when the union finalized a tentative agreement with management.

The contract will — once it’s ratified — raise wages, strengthen pensions and increase investments in healthcare, the union said.

It’s the fourth property with which the union has struck a deal. The first was the Westin Bonaventure, which reached a tentative deal just as contracts were set to expire June 30 for more than 15,000 hotel workers at some 60 properties in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The second was the Biltmore in downtown L.A.’s financial district, which announced a deal last month. On Tuesday, the union announced its agreement with Loews Hollywood.

The union has declined to give specifics on wages and other economic details of the agreements it has reached thus far, and the contracts have not yet been put to a vote by workers.

The hotel in Dana Point, which is owned by the University of California system through its retirement fund, in July became a center point of allegations of violence against striking workers.

“We are eager to begin a new chapter at Laguna Cliffs Marriott,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, in a written statement Wednesday.

Petersen said the agreement “meets the needs of our members in wages and benefits.” Former California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez facilitated the negotiations, he said.

Negotiations held last week between the union and a group of hotels were tense, both sides said.

Keith Grossman, an attorney representing the group of hotel owners and operators, said in a written statement late Tuesday that the union had disingenuously claimed that hotels’ proposal would “destroy employees’ healthcare.”

“Unfortunately, the Union remains unwilling to engage in actual good-faith negotiations,” Grossman said. “Its inflexibility and insistence on all its demands will not end this labor dispute or get employees what they are asking for — immediate wage increases and a new contract.”

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