After attending a Taylor Swift concert in Santa Clara, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis signed a letter signed with dozens of state and local Los Angeles officials urging singer Taylor Swift to cancel her highly hyped concerts at LA’s SoFi Stadium this week in favor of supporting solidarity with striking union hotel workers. Joining in the letter were LA County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Janice Hahn, and Assembly Majority Leader Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles).
Long story short I went to the Eras Tour ✨ pic.twitter.com/YplE7dgJIa
— Eleni Kounalakis (@EleniForCA) July 30, 2023
However, this failed to change Swift’s mind with the concerts expected to go forward.
For over a month, hotel workers at dozens of hotels in LA County and Orange County, represented by the Unite Here union, have been on strike. Earlier this year, the union pushed for a $5 per hour wage increase across the board for all non-management hotel workers, with an additional $3 boost each coming year for the next 3 years, for a total of a $14 raise to combat the increased cost of living and to protect the firing of workers. Also demanded was a better healthcare and pension program as well as for hotels stop using the e-verify system to check on work eligibility, as the union said that it would only weed out immigrant workers. However, the hotels countered with a $2.50 per hour wage increase instead.
With no agreement being reached, workers went on strike during the busy July 4th holiday. Throughout July, the strike came in waves, affecting different hotels in the area as a result. While hotel service was disrupted temporarily and traffic has been disrupted as well, even resulting in arrests around LAX, the strike has been largely ineffective. The major disruptions has brought little public sympathy for the strikers, with union leaders and sympathetic lawmakers trying to find other ways for the strike to gain strength.
Late last month Unite Here Local 11 joined with lawmakers over a new tactic – calling on megastar singer Taylor Swift to postpone her Los Angeles concerts as a big part of the sympathy strike. In an open letter released this week, the union, as well as lawmakers such as Kounalakis pled with Swift for her to stand with the union and hotel workers.
The Unite Here Letter
“As a strong and fearless woman, you inspire us and so many of our constituents,” said the letter. “We are writing in support of the hotel housekeepers across Los Angeles. They make beds, clean bathrooms, and take care of every guest need. But right now, workers say they are struggling to make ends meet.”
“Your shows make our region’s hotels a lot of money. In Los Angeles, hotels are doubling and tripling what they charge because you are coming. The hotels are making more money than ever, but many workers cannot afford to live close to where they work. Some of them even sleep in their cars between shifts. Others are at risk of losing their homes.”
“Hotel workers are fighting for their lives. They are fighting for a living wage. They have gone on strike. Now, they are asking for your support.”
“Speak Now! Stand with hotel workers and postpone your concerts. Thank you.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, Kounalakis also noted, “All workers deserve dignity and fair wages. I stand with Unite HERE in their fight for a living wage, and I hope we can use this moment to bring attention to the hardworking men and women who are the engine of our economy.”
The sold out concerts of over 70,000 for each one of her six shows currently have ticket prices above $400 for the cheapest available seats, In addition, on Wednesday, the day before her concert, the line for the merchandise area alone had fans wrap around the stadium and out of the stadium complex, highlighting just how big this series of concerts are.
This is the Eras Tour Merch line RIGHT NOW in LA at Sofi 🤯🤯 they opened at 10am today (she doesn’t go on until tomorrow) to try & combat the demand and OMG!! My friend Erin is there rn said the line is 3 hours long 🙈
— Lauren Lipman✨AUG 9 SEC FL-L✨& 8/5 parking lot👀 (@LaurenLipman) August 2, 2023
Despite the pressure, Swift representatives have not commented on the postponement, with a potential backout now being considered too late due to the number of fans needing hotel rooms, transportation, food, and other accommodations.
“I don’t know what Kounalakis and the others were thinking with this,” explained event coordinator and large event manager Luis Scott to the Globe on Wednesday. “Months and months of planning go into a week-long string of concerts like this, especially for a large-scale venue like a football stadium.”
“Besides an act of God, postponing a huge event like this is incredibly complicated. And those who do are going to be flat out hated, even if it is for something that some people may be in favor for, like joining a strike like this. 70,000 each show, six concerts, That’s hundreds of thousands of fans alone. You just can’t cancel last minute. Hotels, rental car places, and other places do not really do rainchecks, so you’re depriving them not only a concerts but hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars.”
“Yeah, in the end, it is only a concert, but Taylor Swift is huge. A call to join a strike, I mean, do these politicians know what will happen to them if successful? Vengeful fans won’t blame Swift, but them and the union. It has happened before. When the Super Bowl was moved out of Arizona 30 years ago to the Rose Bowl over state recognition of MLK Day, fans were not blaming the NFL. They were blaming the politicians, and subsequently ousted most in the next election in part do to it.
“These politicians, by doing this, are not taking a stand or trying to support workers. There are other ways to get attention or drum up support. This is not one of them. Stopping the concerts now is like stopping a freight train. It’s just too late.”
Swift is expected to hold concerts in the stadium between August 3rd and August 9th.
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