March 14, 2018

UNITE HERE Local 11 today demanded the newly-reopened Figueroa Hotel owned by GreenOak Real Estate cut ties with head bartender Dushan Zaric, who will oversee the hotel’s five bars.[i] In 2016, his liquor business the 86 Company perpetuated the stereotype that women are not fit for coveted bartending jobs by publishing a job posting seeking “badass cocktail waitresses and supervisors” for a new Employees Only location in Singapore.

The posting ignited a firestorm, hitting a nerve with women bartenders who are often relegated to cocktail waitressing jobs and often only allowed to tend bar in establishments that are highly sexualized as opposed to prestigious cocktail bars like Zaric’s Employees Only.[ii]

In response to criticism and calls for a boycott, Zaric wrote a Facebook post stating, “If you ever feel that the world owes you anything – therapy is a great way to heal that wound. We are all hurting – one way or the other.” He then stepped down from public-facing roles at the 86 Company, but Food and Wine reported in February 2018 that he remains founder and co-owner of the business. Zaric is also reportedly opening an Employees Only location in West Hollywood this spring.[iii]

Local 11 has been at the forefront of combating sexual harassment in the hotel industry, and believes removing Zaric will send a strong message to hoteliers that sexism will not be tolerated in Los Angeles.  Juana Melara, a Local 11 member at the Westin Long Beach hotel and Sandra Pezqueda, who was fired from the Terranea Resort after speaking out about sexual harassment, were featured as “Silence Breakers” in Time Magazine’s recent “Person of the Year” issue.  Local 11 is also supporting a proposed California ordinance that would require hotels to provide panic buttons to housekeepers and has fought for similar legislation in Long Beach.

Local 1, Local 11’s sister union, passed the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance to help protect Chicago hotel workers from sexual harassment and assault after finding that 58% of hotel workers surveyed had experienced sexual harassment from guests, including incidences of sexual assault.

Members of Local 11 know that a union contract is the best way to protect themselves against sexual harassment and assault and to ensure harassers answer for their actions. GreenOak has been unwilling to sign a labor peace agreement at the Hotel Figueroa, setting itself apart from properties like the Hotel Indigo and InterContinental Los Angeles, which signed similar agreements with Local 11.