|Striking W Hollywood Workers Get Support from AFTRA Pro Dancers|
LOS ANGELES – Workers at the popular W Hotel in Hollywood walked off the job in a one-day strike today, Friday, Oct. 28, to protest not being able to take breaks.
“We are on strike today to show the W Hollywood that we deserve the right to take breaks,” said Mildred Velasquez, a W housekeeper. “We are excited to be joined by music video dancers who also need breaks on the job. Whether it’s in a hotel or at a video production, management must respect the limits of our bodies.”
AFTRA music video dancers dropped by the Hollywood hot-spot to perform for striking hotel workers. Both unions pledged total support of each other’s campaigns for safe working conditions.
“Hotel and food service workers of UNITE HERE Local 11 are 100 percent behind AFTRA dancers,” said Thomas Walsh, president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “We are ready to do whatever it takes to demonstrate our support.”
Professional music video dancers are fighting for a fair union contract for the first time in 30 years. On June 21, AFTRA began negotiations for a music video contract with representatives of Sony, UMG, Warner, EMI, Disney and most of their subsidiary labels. A successful contract will provide breaks and other provisions for dancers and other professional performers.
"We are here today with our sisters and brothers from UNITE HERE Local 11 because we want the record labels - and the rest of Hollywood - to know that we are prepared to take our fight for a fair contract covering music videos to the next level and to the streets. All workers, whether they are hotel workers or dancers in music videos, deserve the dignity and protections of a union contract. The 70,000 members of AFTRA are proud to stand united and shoulder-to-shoulder with the members of UNITE HERE in telling the companies: we deserve a break!"
California state law allows workers two 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute rest break in an eight-hour shift. According to the law, for every day that a rest break is missed, the worker is entitled to one hour of pay from the employer; and for every day that a meal break is missed, the employee is entitled to another hour of pay. Failure to pay for missed breaks amounts to wage theft.
W housekeepers say they have to rush to complete their room requirement.
“I have found rooms trashed from guests’ partying—feather pillows split open, balloons, glitter and decorations on the wall, cake thrown on the ceiling, cigarette butts and ashes on the floor, lipstick letters on the mirrors, rose petals everywhere, candle wax hardened on furniture—we have to clean it all up and fast,” said Velasquez.
The W Hollywood Hotel is owned by HEI Hospitality whose major investors include Yale, Harvard, Princeton and University of Chicago, among others.
For more information on UNITE HERE Local 11, please visit unitehere11.org
For more information about AFTRA, please visit aftra.com.