Striking hotel workers staged a noisy protest Wednesday outside the Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica, the new home of the American Film Market. Around 100 workers, members of hospitality workers union Unite Here Local 11, crowded the sidewalk alongside Pico Blvd, protesting what they call unfair working conditions for their members, some 67 of whom work at the Le Meridien Delfina.
Banging drums, tooting vuvuzelas and loudly chanting slogans, the protestors called for the AFM and those attending the film market this week to boycott the hotel. Unite Here Local 11 is in the midst of a labor dispute with the Le Meridien Delfina and several other hotels in Santa Monica and has been carrying out rolling strikes since the July 4th weekend. On Wednesday the union held similar noisy protests outside the Viceroy Santa Monica, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, the Courtyard Marriott Santa Monica and the Hilton Santa Monica Hotel, all of which are full with AFM attendees.
In addition to their own dispute — the union is calling for “a living wage” for its members to allow them to afford to live in Los Angeles amid rising inflation and soaring housing costs — Unite Here has called out the Le Meridien Delfina and other hotels for allegedly using unhoused refugees to replace workers during the strikes.
Last month, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón launched an investigation into the allegations. Among the claims are that hotels, through third-party temp agencies, have brought in refugees, many of them living unhoused or in homeless shelters on Skid Row, to work as cleaners and in other service jobs.
Speaking to The Music news, AFM organizer the Independent Film & Television Alliance said they were aware of the allegations and the investigation but said they were “not a party to the dispute” and could not comment on the validity of the claims or the circumstances surrounding the strike. IFTA noted that it signed a multi-year deal to move the AFM from its longtime home at the Lowes Hotel, which is currently undergoing renovation, to the Le Meridien Delfina back in “March of this year, well before Unite Here Local 11 commenced a strike against these hotels and targeted our event.”
The Music news has reached out to the Le Meridien Delfina hotel for comment.