Workers at private equity firm The Blackstone Group‘s Fairfield and Aloft LAX/El Segundo and Sheraton Phoenix hotels walked off the job last Wednesday.
The strike comes after a negotiation meeting last week in which a group of hotel employers presented hundreds of SoCal workers with a “new” proposal to resolve the months-long labor dispute. Enraging workers, the hotels did not meaningfully improve upon their prior position, offering no new money for wages, pension, or health insurance. Amid soaring housing costs, workers have been demanding wages that will enable them to afford to live in the communities where they work.
The workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 11, is proposing an immediate $5 hourly wage increase. At the Fairfield and Aloft LAX/El Segundo hotels, most Local 11 members make only $20 per hour.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator, the living wage for a family with two adults working and two children in Los Angeles County is $30.15.
Local 11’s economic proposal would enable hotel workers to make significant headway in the face of soaring rent increases. In December 2022, Blackstone’s head of Americas real estate Nadeem Meghji said at an internal company meeting that the firm, which is also the largest residential landlord in the US, estimated it could increase rents 20% higher than it was charging.
Workers at the Blackstone-owned Sheraton Phoenix went on strike as they attempted to negotiate a contract with wage increases, affordable health care and a pension, benefits that the workers currently lack.
The Sheraton Phoenix now faces a federal unfair labor practice charge alleging the Company unlawfully disciplined and terminated a worker due to their Union activity and conducted unlawful surveillance of picketers in July.
Blackstone investors should urge the firm to immediately resolve the labor dispute at the firm’s LAX hotels and at the Sheraton Phoenix, and ensure that Blackstone guarantees labor peace across its hospitality portfolio.