Striking hotel workers and wedding guests clashed at the Hotel Maya in a pre-wedding brawl Saturday, with people on both sides being physically assaulted, according to video of the event and witness accounts.
During a strike at the Hotel Maya, in which workers were calling for higher wages and improved working conditions, video obtained by the Post shows picketers attempting to force their way through a temporary fence erected around a wedding ceremony. Wedding guests responded by rushing to the fence to push back.
In the fray, a picketer was struck on the head by a hotel guest not affiliated with the wedding, video of the incident Saturday shows.
“Security were forcibly relocating striking workers and there was a guest that ran around and punched a worker in the head,” Maria Hernandez, spokesperson for Unite Here Local 11, the union representing the striking workers, said in an interview. “It was really, really bad. Meanwhile, security just stood there and didn’t do anything.”
A hotel spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.
The wedding was Maisha Parker’s. She said her wedding was delayed an hour and a half due to the disruption of the strike—despite her now-husband and guests asking picketers to keep the noise down during the 30-minute ceremony, even offering to buy them pizza.
“They refused, chanted my name with [‘puta’], pressed past the fences put up and assaulted my guests,” Parker said in an email. “It took several men of our party to push the barrier back and the police had to be called.”
Pete Hillan, a spokesperson for the California Hotel and Lodging Association, said the extent of the union action was disrespectful, given the amount of time and money that goes into a wedding.
Weddings at the Maya can range anywhere from $6,000 to $33,000+, according to wedding-spot.com. Parker declined to say exactly how much her wedding cost, but said it was more than the high-end figure when you account for flowers, music, photographers and travel expenses.
“The reality is union reps are making these purposeful disruptions, disturbing the peace, in this case destroying a moment that should be private,” Hillan said. “Is that really going to accomplish their goals? I think it just shows them to be the bullies that they are.”
Hillan condemned the instigation by striking workers and union representatives as well as the violence levied against them.
“The disruptions that Unite Here creates are intended to provoke a response,” Hillan said.
Grecia Lopez, campaign director for Long Beach for a Just Economy, a local affiliate of LAANE, on Wednesday said the union members absolutely intended to disrupt the event at the Maya as well as any other hotels during their strike.
“Workers are rising up, they’re walking out, demanding their fair share,” Lopez said. “That means causing disruption. They have the right to do that.”
Long Beach police were called, and upon arrival found four people with minor injuries, according to department spokesperson Alyssa Baeza. Long Beach firefighters treated one of the victims at the scene, Baeza said.
All injuries were inflicted by one attacker, according to Baeza. The man allegedly destroyed a speaker being used by the picketers before he proceeded to batter the victims.
He fled before officers arrived and the investigation is ongoing, Baeza said.
Parker said police escorted her through the picketers to her wedding, which was confirmed by the department. After the initial delay, though, Parker said the wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch.
“We are married, we are happy,” Parker said. “The first part of the day sucked, but we were able to recover.”
The violence in Long Beach was not an isolated incident. Striking workers at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica on Saturday were tackled to the ground by security as they tried to establish a picket line, a video posted online by the union shows.
The union also alleges security at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Hotel and Spa in Dana Point has not offered any assistance in identifying guests who have repeatedly assaulted and threatened striking workers.
Michelin-starred chef John Tesar, who has a Knife Modern Steak location at Laguna Cliffs allegedly broke a drum one of the striking workers was holding. He then unleashed a tirade of insults on the workers, video obtained by Page Six shows.
“Take your union and shove it up your ass,” Tesar is heard saying. “Suck my [expletive], you’re a bad person. You’re a lazy pendeja.”
The hotel, for its part, told Independent that Tesar was “immediately removed” from the property, adding that it has “zero tolerance for violence of any kind.”
In response to these incidents, the union has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board Region 31 against the hotel industry’s Coordinated Bargaining Group, which represents more than 40 Los Angeles and Orange county hotels, including Hyatt, Hilton, IHG and Marriott.
“I feel discriminated against because I feel like the company is ordering them to treat us this way,” German Martinez, a dishwasher of 34 years at the Fairmont Miramar, said in a statement. “It’s as if we’re their enemies, not their workers.”
Maya workers, meanwhile, returned to work Tuesday, according to Lopez, the director of Long Beach for a Just Economy. On Friday, however, the group is joining Unite Here Local 11 at the Maya for a “non-violent protest” against this weekend’s violence.
“We’re joining workers in standing up against these acts of violence, not only at Hotel Maya but also other cities,” Lopez said. “We’re amplifying this to ensure it does not continue to happen. It is inhumane, it is shameful for that kind of violence to be happening to these workers.”