Hotel workers protest Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s Oscar afterparty

Hotel workers protest Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s Oscar afterparty

Workers at the esteemed Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles plan to protest outside Jay-Z and Beyonce’s lavish Oscar’s afterparty which will be hosted at the hotel.

The staff are alleging longstanding rights violations and discrimination by their employer, leaving the Carters and their star-studded guestlist with the choice as to whether they cross the picket line.

“Hopefully our presence will educate people that they need to go somewhere else,” said Kurt Petersen, the co-president of Unite Here Local 11, a union supporting the service staff, who are not unionised, told the Guardian.

“This hotel should not be seen any more as the go-to spot in Hollywood until they change the way they treat workers. We’re in a moment in our history where people need to decide which side they are on.

“That’s the question everyone needs to ask themselves, including Jay-Z.”

The staff’s boycott has met the support of Hollywood figures including Jane Fonda, Spike Lee, Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, Samara Wiley, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black and Alfonso Cuarón.

Paramount Plus series The Offer pulled out of filming there and director Aaron Sorkin scrapped a shoot at the hotel for Being the Ricardos.

An emailed statement from a spokesperson accused the union of trying to “damage the Chateau Marmont” by orchestrating protests using “paid agitators … most of whom are not former employees and have no connections to the non-union Chateau Marmont.”

But the protesters have taken the movement under their stride, with many describing a sense of discontent with what they call a toxic work environment, according to the Guardian.

Non-white employees cited racist remarks and said they were passed over for promotions at the hotel.

An investigation by the Hollywood Reporter said the hotel’s managing director, Amanda Grandinetti, referred to a black employee as “blackie” and told another to refer to her by saying “Yes, Amassa,” allegedly in reference to a slave master.

It was reported that in a lawsuit against Chateau last year, April Blackwell, a black employee at the hotel, said Grandinetti sacked her after complaining about racial abuse from guests.

Some of Chateau’s female employees said they received sexual harassment and alleged that the owner, André Balazs, would get drunk and grope female workers on the premises – which he has denied.

After the pandemic hit the hotel laid off 248 staff members with no severance or extended health insurance.

However, the staff were re-hired in May 2020 after the workers and Unite Here 11 won the passage of a “right of recall” ordinance in LA, requiring the hotel to hire back the sacked workers instead of hiring new ones.

Towards the start of this year, the National Labor Relations Board found that Chateau Marmont had illegally surveilled its laid-off workers at protests, in order to disrupt their efforts to organize.

“We wouldn’t have this boycott without the solidarity from actors, or from Sag-Aftra, from the Iatse [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees], from the Teamsters, who have been extraordinary,” Pietersen told the Guardian.

“Both of our industries suffered tremendous losses during this time in terms of business. Those unions and those members have stood by us.”

The Chateau Marmont has been a long-standing favourite for some of America’s high rollers.

The pseudo-European castle was built in 1929 by a Los Angeles attorney and was created as apartments for wealthy New Yorkers moving west, however, it was converted into a hotel after the Great Depression.


Featured image: Chateau Marmont (iStock/Anne Czichos)

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