LOS ANGELES - Two dozen members of Congress Monday called for the U.S. Department of Labor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to investigate claims that several Los Angeles-area hotels and staffing agencies were exploiting unhoused refugees.
California Reps. Jimmy Gomez, Judy Chu and Adam Schiff were among 24 Congress members who signed a letter urging federal investigations into the claims. In October, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced his own investigation after allegations that hotels and staffing agencies were using migrants bused to California from Texas, including children in some instances, to replace hotel workers on strike. Gascón said his office would be looking into potential violations of wage and child labor laws.
"The reported exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers to undermine hotel workers’ efforts to win livable wages and other improvements in labor standards is deeply troubling," the representatives' letter read. "We ask that your agencies investigate this situation. We would also welcome any other support that the DOL and FEMA can provide for the vulnerable newcomers who may have been exploited during the ongoing labor dispute, including assistance in securing dignified housing and employment."
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The Los Angeles Times reported that it spoke with 11 people living at the Union Rescue Mission who said they had been hired by hotels targeted by the union strike. Some told The Times they endured heavy cleaning loads and worked long hours, with no prior indication about how much they would be paid. One worker said he was forced to work without breaks, and another said he skipped two days of classes at high school to work at an LAX-area hotel.
In their Monday letter, the congressmembers named four hotels specifically that "may have employed the unhoused refugees during the recent hotel worker strikes." FOX 11 has reached out to those hotels for comment and has not yet heard back.
Thousands of SoCal hotel workers have been on strike since the summer, though some hotels have reached agreements with their workers.