#WeAllGrow Stands With ‘Hermanas’ Risking ‘Livelihoods’ in L.A. Hotel Worker’s Strike and Postpones Conference
Hermanahood is intrinsic to Latinas. At their core, they understand how to support one another when in need. They know the true meaning of solidarity. So, when faced with deciding how they would support the Southern California Latina hotel workers who were striking for better pay and benefits, #WeAllGrow founders Ana Flores and Vanessa Santos made the tough call.
With their philosophy of supporting Latinas and Latine femmes, Flores and Santos postponed their #WeAllGrow Weekend Fest. The event at Hotel Maya in Long Beach, CA, is dedicated to helping Latinas and Latine femmes connect with like-minded people looking to elevate and evolve in life and business.
On September 22, # WeAllGrow’s Weekend Fest was officially postponed. Flores and Santos released a statement noting that they would honor the sacrifice of the Latinas who are striking for fair pay. They also understood the “inconvenience” or “hardship” their decision would have on some.
Postponing # WeAllGrow’s Weekend Fest proved that Flores and Santos walk the walk and talk the talk
As was noted in their official statement, Flores and Santos understood the implications that postponing an event of this magnitude would mean for their business. They did it anyway. The two Latina founders proved that they are made of the stuff true leaders are made of.
Their statement begins, “We come to you with a heavy heart as we have recently learned that our Weekend Fest venue lies at the epicenter of what is going of an ongoing hotel workers union strike unfolding across Southern California, primarily involving Latino workers who are integral to our community.”
“We hoped that the labor dispute would be resolved prior to the event, but like hundreds of venues across California, the strike continues, and the picket line remains,” it continued.
#WeAllGrow was created in 2010 to help build community among Latinas and Latine femmes so that they may “support and uplift each other,” per their website. Their released statement references how the “guiding pillars” of #WeAllGrow have been to “heal, commune, and grow.”
Because of their resolve to always honor them, Santos and Flores postponed the event set for October 21 and 22.
Flores and Santos know that standing with their hermanas is the most important thing they can do
#WeAllGrow continues, “While we understand this to be true, we understand another important truth — the hardships that weigh on the backs and hearts of the working people who endure unfair, substandard conditions cannot be overlooked.”
“But what we also know is that too many of our hermanas — mamás, tías, primas — are putting their very livelihoods on the line in order to defend fair compensation for their labor. At #WeAllGrow, we say when one grows, we all grow. When they grow, we grow too,” they affirm.
The two Latina founders note in their statement that they are actively having conversations with the venue, their team, and the community, as well as community partners like Justice for Migrant Women.
Their statement concludes, “Achieving meaningful, substantive change isn’t usually easy, but as our ancestors who often sacrificed it all to have so selflessly taught us, it’s always worth it in the end.”
The hotel workers first began striking in early July due to unfair compensation
NPR reports that workers began fighting for better hotel compensation on July 4. UNITE HERE Local 11, the union negotiating for the workers, wants hotels to improve their contracts.
Among the requests, the union would like hotels to give employees a $5 hourly wage increase. The Nation reports that they also want a $3 hourly increase for two consecutive years. It’s also asking hotels to add a seven percent surcharge to all guest tabs. NPR cites that this will help establish a fund to assist employees with housing needs.
According to Labor Notes, hotels are trying to find a way to circumvent the strike. They are using an app called Instawork. The strike left 62 hotels without much of their workforce. They’ve used the app to hire African-American workers to fill the void.
Labor Notes cites that hotel managers have asserted difficulty in finding “qualified” African-American workers for many years. Yet once the strike began, they were able to find them.
The union has found that at least six hotels participated in scabbing. They proceeded to hire non-union African-American workers through the temporary staffing app.
Andrea Rodriguez, a housekeeper on strike, told Labor Notes, “This company brought in African American workers to break our strike, but once we came back in [3 days later], they let them go. We have open positions in housekeeping, and they could have hired them permanently, but they didn’t. We didn’t think it was fair.”
The housing crisis has made it impossible for workers to live near their jobs
For Bradley Thomas, striking to support his fellow workers cost him dearly, per Labor Notes. He was hired for non-union work through the app. However, the app suspended him because it did not allow him to appeal his absence due to striking. Thomas had been living in his car and had it repossessed.
This is why the union is asking for assistance with housing for hotel workers. Thomas cited that he lived in his car because his jobs were very far from one another. It was more cost-effective for him to live in his car.
The union also wants hotels to support a ballot to keep workers from losing their homes to hotel construction. The ballot would seek to help place homeless people in vacant hotel rooms.