Embassy Suites Irvine Workers Strike Against New Management Company

Categories: Labor
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Embassy Suites Irvine
Striking hotel workers at the non-union Embassy Suites Irvine walked off the job today and are taking their two-year long labor dispute to Pasadena.

The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, which held its monthly board meeting there this morning, is a dominant investor in the ownership fund of the Embassy Suites. In solidarity with strikers, SEIU 721 members, as pension beneficiaries, are speaking out.

New troubles began earlier this month when Embassy Suites Irvine administrators Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers hired a new management company Hostmark that only added to existing grievances over poor working conditions, increasing health insurance costs and low wages.

The latest spat involves hotel workers daring to wear union buttons. A charge filed by UNITE HERE Local 11 with the National Labor Relations Board alleges that employees who did so were threatened with termination if they did not remove them--a violation of federal labor law.

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Courtesy of UNITE HERE Local 11
Irvine workers at LACERA meeting proudly wearing their buttons

"I have worn my button to demonstrate support for a union for two years," says David Williamson, a longtime janitor, in a press statement. "In the past 10 days, I've been disciplined five times by managers telling me to take it off or I'll be fired."  Forty disciplinary notices overall have been issued in that same time frame.

The previous managers, HEI Hospitality, were dinged for violating state labor laws in denying full-time employees break periods last year as back wages and penalties were levied against them. The new company is off to a bad start with aggressive tactics that seem to be ensuring that worker-called boycott of Embassy Suites Irvine won't end anytime soon.

UNITE HERE Local 11 estimates that the boycott has cost the hotel at least $2.1 million in revenues. Who knew that mistreating workers could be so expensive?

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