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Scores of Striking Hotel Workers Stage Protest ‘Posada’ Through Pasadena

Unite Here Local 11 workers continue strike action against Pasadena Hilton; face fines for setting up sidewalk tents, tables, clotheslines

Published on Tuesday, December 19, 2023 | 6:32 am

Workers representing Unite Here Local 11 staged a noisy “posada” on Monday evening through downtown Pasadena as part of their ongoing protests of failed union negotiations with the management of the Hilton Pasadena hotel. 

The Unite Here union strike against Los Angeles area hotels since July is driven by demands for a $5 hourly wage increase, access to affordable family healthcare, higher pension contributions, humane workloads, and the creation of a “hospitality workforce housing fund” to address the rising costs of living in Southern California.

While the union has reached tentative contract agreements with some hotels, the Pasadena Hilton has not agreed.

Monday’s posada event in Pasadena — based on the Latin Christmas tradition reenacting Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter but finding only inhospitable innkeepers — followed a daylong series of skirmishes with police and City code compliance officials about removal of tents, tables, chairs and clotheslines union members had placed on the public sidewalk in front of the Hilton Pasadena at 168 S. Los Robles.

Demonstrator Alberto Tostado said the officials were infringing on the union demonstrators’ civil rights. Tostado said he is a banquet captain with 38 years of experience at the hotel.

City Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian said the City was focused on public safety.

“We have been and will continue to work with the unions on safe and lawful ways in which they can express their rights to free speech and demonstrations,” Derderian told Pasadena Now.  “It is our obligation to protect the health and safety and well-being of our community.”  

Derderian said during the event that the City sent Code Compliance officers “to discuss our concerns and next steps.” The officers ultimately issued a citation late in the afternoon.

The posada march moved north on Los Robles Avenue from the Hilton Pasadena to the Hyatt Hotel, also being struck, and then on to City Hall and Pasadena Police headquarters before returning to the Hilton Pasadena.

At each location, the group, which included union members dressed as Joseph and Mary, reenacted the Biblical tale of the two seeking shelter so Mary could give birth to the Baby Jesus.

The Pasadena action was part of a broader movement across Southern California, with hundreds of hotel workers from Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, Century Blvd near LAX, and Pasadena demanding similar contracts to those agreed upon by other hotels.

The movement has picked up recent momentum as ten hotels have reached tentative agreements with Unite Here Local 11, totaling 20 settled hotels in the region, all advocating for equitable employment terms amid increasing living costs.

District 7 Pasadena City Councilmember Jason Lyon, who represents the Council District the hotel is in, said he was in support of the strike, explaining, “We’ve had this great year of labor organizations all across the country standing up for workers’ rights and really vindicating workers’ rights. And I’m happy to see that happening with the hotel workers in Southern California.” 

“We have hotel workers who are a vital part of Pasadena’s economy coming from homes that are sometimes hours away,” said Lyon. “And so they’re seeking compensation that will allow the hotel operators obviously to turn a fair profit, but we’ll also allow hotel workers to live in reasonable proximity to the communities where they work, which seems to me a reasonable request.”

Continued Lyon, “I am in support of workers’ right to stand up for fair wages, and I am certainly in support of our hospitality workers in Pasadena being well compensated for the important work they do.”

Union organizer Maria Hernandez pointed out that the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game are fast approaching. She pointed out that the Union’s actions could continue during New Year’s activities if the hotel does not negotiate a resolution.

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