The fight to end hotel worker abuse continued Wednesday evening in downtown Long Beach as hundreds of workers and supporters participated in a march that began at the Westin hotel and ended outside Long Beach City Hall.
The demonstration included a clothesline of pillowcases with messages like “I stand with women against abuse” and “women’s lives matter,” 18 makeshift beds between one and three feet in length and a short performances dramatizing a maid trying to hurriedly clean a room while a drunk client looked on and made sexual advances.
“Tonight we gather in front of these hotels who think their walls can cover their disgraceful treatment of the women who keep their businesses running, “ said Theresa Jaramilla of the Gabriela Feminist Organization. “But the truth is on these linens, now being aired out for all to see and hear.”
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.
Westin hotel worker Juana Melara shared her struggles with the crowd, repeating a story of sexual advances and difficult work standards she previously related at another demonstration.
“I must work a very fast pace, cleaning up to 18 rooms every day and often on my hands and knees,” Melara said previously. “More than a few times guests have asked me for sexual favors.”
Currently, hotel workers have seen support from councilmembers Suja Lowenthal, Lena Gonzalez and Rex Richardson.
“I am deeply troubled with the concerns voiced by working women of the Long Beach hotel industry,” said State Sen. Ricardo Lara in a statement. “These courageous women have united against abuse and I stand with them in support of their fight to lift standards throughout the industry,” Lara added.
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.
All photos by Stephanie Rivera.