Just as the Fourth of July holiday weekend gets underway, thousands of hotel workers in Southern California went on strike Sunday morning seeking to negotiate a contract with higher wages and other benefits, according to the union representing workers.

Members of UNITE HERE Local 11, which claims to represent more than 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona, are on strike at more than a dozen hotels in Los Angeles and Santa Monica after their contract shortly expired. after midnight on Saturday. according to posts on the union’s Twitter page.

Participants include cooks, dishwashers, servers, front desk workers and room attendants, according to a union news release. A union representative told NBC News on Friday that the contract covered about 15,000 workers at 65 hotels.

The union’s key demands include a $5 an hour wage increase, access to affordable family health care and stronger workplace protections.

A union spokesman could not immediately be reached on Sunday for more specific details.

Negotiations began on April 20, according to UNITE HERE Local 11. Last month, 96% of UNITE HERE Local 11 members voted to authorize the strike.

The union also says that while hotels received billions in federal bailouts during the pandemic and have since rebounded to and surpassed pre-pandemic profits, wages have not kept up with rising housing costs. Affordable housing advocates have said skyrocketing rents are fueling homelessness across California, where there is nearly a million fewer affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income renters. according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The union has also said that plans for Los Angeles to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the Olympic Games in 2028 could exacerbate the housing crisis.

In a statement, Kurt Petersen, co-chair of UNITE HERE Local 11, said it was «shameful» that «hotel negotiators decided to take a four-day vacation instead of negotiating.»

A statement released Thursday by the Los Angeles Hotel Association said hotel management representatives had been «actively engaging in good faith collective bargaining» with the union.

«The hotel community will continue to provide excellent service by welcoming guests to the Los Angeles area as we always do,» the statement added.

And a statement issued Friday by attorneys Keith Grossman and Ken Ballard on behalf of the Coordinated Bargaining Group, the 44 Los Angeles and Orange County hotels involved in the negotiations, said the union «has shown no desire to participate in productive and good faith negotiations with this group.»

The statement also said that the Coordinated Bargaining Group proposed wage increases of $2.50 per hour in the first year, increasing to $6.25 per hour for the next four years.

The strike comes days after the Westin Bonaventure, the largest hotel in the city, reached an agreement that affects its 600 workers, who will see their salaries and retirement contributions increased, among other benefits. the union said.

It’s also happening during Anime Expo, a four-day event focused on Japanese pop culture that takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center and draws 100,000 people from around the world. reported the LA Times.

The hotel workers’ strike also comes amid the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike. And the union of the Screen Actors Guild, which represents some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, agreed to extend their contract negotiations with the Alliance of Film and Television Producers until July 12 to avoid a strike.

Angela Dallman, erick mendoza and Messenger Haley contributed.