The Los Angeles Hotels Coalition for Diversity is urging African Americans in Los Angeles not to “eat, sleep or book events” at the LAX Hilton on Century Blvd. until workers there are allowed to form a union and be treated fairly. When they are allowed to form a union, said William Lee Smart Jr. of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and hotel chef and organizer Donald Wilson, then African Americans will have a better chance of getting back into the hospitality industry where their numbers have dwindled since 1980.
“Once we get a first time contract with any new hotels that we organize a diversity clause will be in there,” Wilson explained.
“There’s some strong language in the contract [that will make hotels accountable in their hiring practices]” A unionized workforce provides its workers, including blacks a living wage, adequate health benefits and career advancement opportunities.
“When I started back in 1974 in this industry there were a lot of African Americans,” explained Wilson. There are hardly any now, he said.
“The reason for that is the hotel industry is looking for a workforce they can control.”
According to Wilson, some of the immigrant workers who make up most of the industry’s workforce now, are more susceptible to abusive labor practices.
“They know they can only push African Americans so far before we stand up for our rights,” he said.
That’s why the coalition has been working so hard to improve conditions, Smart said.
“We had a goal of five initial hotels over there where we worked for better conditions: the Westin, the Radisson, Four Points, Sheraton Gateway and the LAX Hilton. The LAX Hilton really treats their employees bad and we’ve had difficulty with them. They have fought us every step. When city council enacted the living wage they fought it. Just recently, this past August, a judge ruled in favor of the city so they lost that fight…”
Both men say they have garnered a lot of support from various African American community leaders, Latinos… “anyone who understands