Anaheim employees a step closer to ‘hospitality worker bill of rights’

Hospitality workers in Anaheim have gathered signatures for a “hospitality worker bill of rights” aimed at boosting wages and protecting them from sexual assault on the job.

The mostly non-union workers say they’ve tallied 25,000 signatures, which they plan to present to the city. A total of 16,643 signatures are needed to approve the measure. If enough are deemed valid, Anaheim would have the option of adopting the bill as a city ordinance.

If the city chooses not to, it would be placed before voters, allowing them to decide.

Representatives with the Anaheim/Orange County Hotel & Lodging Association could not be reached for comment.

Anaheim would have the option of adopting the initiative as a city ordinance. If the city chooses not to, it would be put before voters who would decide its outcome. (File photo)

Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Glendale and West Hollywood have adopted similar ordinances in recent years, while Irvine became the first Orange County city to do so in 2022.

The Anaheim measure would provide:

Panic buttons with a security guard on call, mandatory training and security protocols to protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault and threatening conduct by guests and others
Fair pay when housekeepers are assigned heavy workloads, and a prohibition on mandatory overtime after 10 hours
$25 minimum wage for hotel housekeepers and other hotel workers with annual wage hikes to reflect the cost of living
Protections ensuring workers are retained when new owners or operators take over their workplaces

The initiative comes as workers across the hospitality sector say they have been forced to perform increasingly burdensome workloads without fair pay as business returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Irayda Torrez, who has worked as a housekeeper at the Hilton Anaheim hotel for 33 years, applauded the measure.

“I want Anaheim to know that all hotel workers have the right to protections and fair pay for heavy workloads,” Torrez said in a statement. “Housekeepers want to feel respected by having fair pay for our hard work and a wage that accounts for the rising cost of living.”

The hotel added panic buttons in 2019.

The Los Angeles City Council voted in June 2022 to adopt an initiative to increase wages for the city’s hotel workers, while also providing increased protection against sexual assault and other threats they may face on the job.

The Hotel Worker Protection Initiative, backed by Unite Here Local 11, came in response to the industry’s attempt to increase workloads and cut labor costs by eliminating daily room cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martha Moran, who worked as a housekeeper at the famed Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles before being laid off when business plummeted during the early days of the health crisis, knows first-hand how badly panic buttons are needed.

“One guest tried to grope me when I was cleaning a room and another guest offered me $100 to be with him,” the 57-year-old Glendora resident said last year. “I was scared.”

A representative with Chateau Marmont said all of its housekeepers are equipped with personal security devices as outlined in the initiative, adding that it supports the use of those devices at all hotels.

Ada Briceno, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, said Anaheim “should look to Irvine as an example and adopt the housekeepers initiative.”

“The tourism industry’s workforce is tired of feeling overworked and underpaid as business returns to pre-pandemic levels,” Briceno said.

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