Local hotel workers were joined by about 30 community supporters outside Long Beach City Hall Tuesday afternoon to call on citywide action to address sexual assault and extreme workloads.
The news conference was held to share the struggles of hotel workers and announce support from organizers, said Jeannine Pearce of the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community.
“Before we jump to different policy solutions, we need to be able to recognize this as a city that there’s a problem,” Pearce said.
Among those who spoke was Juana Melara, a hotel worker at the Westin hotel in Long Beach who shared her experience cleaning every day with limited supplies in under eight hours.
“I must work a very fast pace, cleaning up to 18 rooms every day and often on my hands and knees," Melara said. “More than a few times guests have asked me for sexual favors."
“Sometimes I deliver room service because we have large workloads and we’re short-staffed, but I don’t feel safe delivering orders alone," said Rosa Casarrubias, a banquet server at the Long Beach Westin.
"There’s one time I will always remember," she said. "As soon as I saw the guest, I knew he was drunk. He was dressed in only a towel. He kept saying things like, ‘Come on honey. Come into the room.'"
Casarrubias said she looked to see if she could ask someone for help, but found no one nearby—to her horror.
"That is why we are here today, we will no longer stay silent," she said. "We are asking city leaders to help put an end to the abuse happening against women in Long Beach hotels.”
Local members of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) also announced their support for workers.
“They are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our aunts, and they have the dignity to stand up and speak up for what is right, so we stand with them,” said Elena Larrsen of CLUE. “The more elaborate and beautiful your hotel room, the more difficult it is to clean. The more lovely that padded mattress, the heavier it is and the more likely it could injure the women who cleans the room for you."
According to the coalition, 82 percent of hotel employees have been subject to verbal aggression or incidents of “deviant customer actions” on the job, and 85 percent of Long Beach’s hotel housekeepers are women.
Currently, hotel workers have seen support from councilmembers Suja Lowenthal, Lena Gonzalez and Rex Richardson.
As the Post reported earlier, workers from the Renaissance have filed a lawsuit against the Marriott, which operates the Renaissance. They allege the operators have violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which was passed in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers.
Officials at the Renaissance declined the Post's earlier requests for comment. Westin officials were unavailable for comment upon earlier questioning.