The Anaheim Hilton last week settled with UNITE-HERE Local 11, which had been picketing the hotel off and on for weeks as part of its regional action against dozens of LA and OC hotels demanding a minimum wage of $25. The militantly left-wing union represents housekeepers, front desk clerks, cooks, and dishwashers.
The agreement falls short of Local 11’s goal and mirrors the agreement reached in late January with the Sheraton Park Hotel: a dollar-a-year wage increase over the next five years, increased employer pension contributions and equipping housekeeping staff with “panic” buttons to alert security if they’re being sexually or physically harassed.
Anaheim Hilton housekeepers will see their $16.01 starting hourly wage increase to $21.01 by the start of 2023.
Local 11 – whose worker representation in the Anaheim Resort has long been limited to five hotels – is trying to credit their illegal shutdown of the busy Harbor/Katella intersection during the NAMM Show for bringing the Hilton to heel.
“The civil disobedience action showed them that we had community support and then the Sheraton caving showed them it was only a matter of time,” Local 11 organizing director Austin Lynch told the OC Weekly.
If that’s true, Lynch didn’t explain why it took the Hilton a month to have that reaction, offered no evidence of the supposed “community support.” At the same time, it isn’t an unusual claim: progressive Left political activists, as a matter of course, routinely claim to speak on behalf of “the community.”
UNITE-HERE Local 11’s goal of a $25 an hour minimum wage is wildly unrealistic, not to mention economically destructive. No jurisdiction in the country has a $25 an hour minimum wage. Inflating the cost to the least skilled labor would wreak havoc on businesses, driving the most vulnerable out of business and leading others to cope with the increased costs by reducing hours, payroll and moving toward automation.
Local 11’s success in securing this wage increase has as much to do with a growing economy and a tight labor market, which naturally leads to wage increases as business compete for workers. Ironically, Local 11 vehemently opposes the tax and regulatory policies driving this economic boom, while supporting public policies that tend to depress wages for less-skilled labor while regressively driving up the cost of living for families at the lower end of the economic ladder.
UNITE-HERE’s campaign for a $25 minimum hourly wage also spurs the industry-wide move to adopt strategies – including greater automation and smart technologies – that enable hotels to more efficiently provide guest services with fewer employees. These include: room service delivery and bell services via robots; increased use of smart phones for check-in, guest requests and even as room keys that allows guests to bypass the front desk entirely; smart technology embedded in hotel room floors that enables more efficient deployment of housekeepers by detect when rooms are unoccupied – while simultaneously precluding guest harassment. The end result is fewer employees making better wages.
At the same time, Local 11 doesn’t appear to be investing the same energy into helping its members climb the economic ladder, as it does into disruptive tactics and ideological crusades that ultimately undermine the ability of their members to advance. UNITE-HERE Local 11’s favorite political pinata, the Disneyland Resort, started the Aspire program to pay for cast members to obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees, professional and technical degrees, GEDs – in other words, paying for their employees to acquire the education, training and skills necessary to move up the economic ladder into the middle class and beyond. Disneyland Resort doesn’t even obligate cast members utilizing the Aspire program to remain with the company – they can leave as soon as they have their degree in hand if they want.
It’s reasonable to ask why Local 11 doesn’t offer similar support to its members so they can work toward a future beyond being a housekeeper or desk clerk. There is dignity in all honest labor. At the same time, perhaps one of Local 11’s ought to be helping its members grow out of being members.