Activists demand protections for Long Beach hotel workers


Activists taking part in Long Beach Rising’s annual “People’s State of the City” address demanded local laws that they say are necessary to protect hotel workers and ensure employers fully compensate their workers.

“Let’s not water down policies to avoid controversy,” said Nina Fernando, a community organizer for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice while speaking before hundreds gathered Thursday evening at Franklin Classical Middle School. “Have the courage to pass policies that will lift up all of Long Beach.”

Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice is among the several pro-labor and generally left-leaning activist groups working together under the banner of Long Beach Rising. Fernando, along with Kenyon Davis of Californians for Justice and James Suazo of Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach spoke Thursday during what was the coalition’s fifth People’s State of the City Event.

The speakers’ remarks touched on several policy issues including pollution being emitted from sources at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, racial equality, the high costs of a college education and housing, as well as the abilities of non-English speakers to access local government.

“When we lift up our most vulnerable communities, all of Long Beach flourishes,” Suazo said.

In terms of specific policy proposals, organizers called for what they are calling “Claudia’s Law,” named after hotel worker Claudia Sanchez. Sanchez, according to Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and Healthy Economy, fell into a coma after sustaining a cerebral hemorrhage after working a 14-hour shift at Renaissance Hotel.

Hotel officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Organizers want Claudia’s Law to include provisions mandating hotels provide workers with panic buttons to alert security personnel whenever workers may be at risk of sexual assaults and overtime pay whenever housekeeping employees are tasked with cleaning more than 4,000 square feet of space during a single shift.

Fernando emphasized after the event that activists are keen on ensuring Long Beach city officials enforce the minimum wage increases the City Council approved in January. The council approved policy generally calls for a $13 an hour wage to be phased in by 2019. If a planned study provides evidence Long Beach employers can handle the wage increases, Long Beach’s minimum wage could rise to $15 an hour in 2021 with future increases pegged to inflation.

The council’s January vote also called for strong local wage enforcement.


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