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San Diego hotel workers rally for $25 minimum wage on International Workers’ Day

Hotel workers with Unite Here Local 30 rally outside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in support of a $25 minimum hourly wage for service workers on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
Katie Anastas
Hotel workers with Unite Here Local 30 rally outside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in support of a $25 minimum hourly wage for service workers on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

Hotel, janitorial and event center workers in San Diego rallied on Wednesday to call for wage increases.

They’re asking the San Diego City Council to pass an ordinance establishing a $25 per hour minimum wage for service workers.

“Twenty-five an hour would be a significant jump for savings, for child care, for vacation. Basic goods and services throughout the week, gas, buying food,” said Christian Carbajal, who’s worked at the Hilton Bayfront for 15 years. “A dollar, two dollars, it matters.”


Unite Here Local 30 represents more than 6,000 hotel, food service and gaming workers in San Diego County. Union president Brigette Browning said the tourism industry is bouncing back from the pandemic.

“They’re making good money but they’re creating poverty jobs, and I think we need our elected officials to say, ‘This isn’t the kind of community that we want to create, with haves and have nots. We want everybody to be able to support their families,’” she said.

Other Southern California communities have weighed in on hotel worker wages recently. Voters in Long Beach approved a ballot initiative earlier this year to raise hotel workers’ minimum wage to $23 starting in July. It’ll continue to increase annually until 2028, when the hourly wage will be $29.50. Anaheim voters rejected a $25 hotel worker minimum wage proposal last year.

Hotel workers' unions across the country are calling for wage increases ahead of upcoming contract negotiations. They say staffing and service cuts during the pandemic have left workers with heavy workloads and fewer hours.

Olivia Guzman has been a housekeeper for 20 years. She said workers like her play a major role in keeping San Diego’s tourism industry going.


“Our employers have been cutting corners a lot, and one of the primary ways that they do this is by increasing our workload and short staffing us,” she said through a translator. “And this isn’t fair to us because we’re the reason that clients and people keep coming to San Diego as a tourist city.”

Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt are three of the hotel brands with contracts set to expire this year, according to the national Unite Here union.

Michael D’Angelo, Hyatt Hotels head of labor relations in the Americas, wrote in an email the company looks forward to negotiating a fair contract.

“Hyatt has a long history of cooperating with the unions that represent our employees, including UNITE HERE Local 30,” D’Angelo wrote. “Under recent collective bargaining agreements with UNITE HERE, Hyatt hotels continue to offer our eligible employees competitive wages and benefits, as well as comprehensive healthcare coverage.”

Hilton and Marriott did not respond to requests for comment.

Union leaders in Los Angeles said hotel workers have reached agreements on wage increases and staffing levels with nearly 50 hotels as of last week. Thousands of union workers there started going on strike last summer to demand wage increases.