In May, 2015, the City of Los Angeles’ Workforce Development Board (WDB) awarded the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) an “Upskilling Initiative” Grant of $100,000, as part of their vision to prevent mass layoffs and also participate in President Obama’s UpSkill American Initiative, led by the White House and the Aspen Institute. This funding allowed UNITE HERE Local 11’s 162 workers at the Concourse Hotel at LAX to elevate the service they provide to guests as part of a $60 million modernization to a Hyatt Regency Hotel. The ESL classes are among the 60 classes that have already transpired in the hotel, made possible with the City’s financial support to the HTA and its partners, UNITE HERE Local 11 and the management from The Concourse Hotel.
On March 31, 2016, The Concourse Hotel held its first English as a Second Language (ESL) graduation consisting of 24 Room Attendants. The guest speakers included:
The Hospitality Training Academy developed the trainings around Hyatt Regency standards to help hotel employees improve their services to guests, including ESL, culinary training, ServSafe training, TiPS Safe Alcohol Service, and customer service trainings.
Margarita Mendoza, a hotel employee since 2003, stated, “I am extremely grateful for my job at the Concourse Hotel. I feel blessed and beyond satisfied that I am finally learning English. I never attended school, or even sat in a classroom as a child. I did not know how to read or write well. Up until this class, I never participated in any learning experience.”
Gregg Irish, Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles stated “A skilled, empowered workforce is crucial to the growth and success of our city, as our airports and surrounding hotels make critical first impressions on the millions of travelers that visit us each year.”
Ask Joseph and he will tell you outright, “hospitality is not just learned, but rather it is something innate that exists inside you.” Accordingly, Joseph has always strived to practice what his mother taught him…to be a gentleman and treat people the way you yourself want to be treated.
Born in the remote town of Linden, Texas, where the homes were equipped not with bathrooms but with outhouses, and the nearest neighbors were so far away you could fire off a shot gun and no one would hear it, Joseph, an African-American gentleman now in his fifties, was no stranger to hardship growing up. Raised by a single mother and the youngest of 12, Joseph never knew his paternal father and lost two of his siblings, one of whom died in early childhood when he was just an infant himself. When Joseph was just three, his family moved from Texas to California and settled in Pomona. A true pillar and a rock, his mom (affectionately known as “Granny Goose”) worked hard, doing domestic work and whatever she could to maintain the house. At age nine, Joseph’s mom remarried and shortly after that his step father took him under his wing and gave him his first job, painting houses to help support the family. It was from his mom and his step dad that Joseph attributes his strong work ethic today.
As a young man, Joseph attended the College of Siskiyous in Weed, CA, near Mt. Shasta, and graduated with a degree in business management. Shortly thereafter, the first of his children were born and the dynamics of Joseph’s life changed completely. Needing to do what had to be done to get by, provide for his family and keep his kids in school, Joseph found himself moving in a lot of different directions career-wise over the years. This included working as a cardiology technician for Cigna Health Plan and Kaiser Permanente, providing administrative support for a law firm, and even opening up his own business, Re-Con Decorating — a clean-up company for interior and exterior construction projects for residential and commercial properties that he operated on and off throughout the years. In the midst of all of this, however, Joseph was also struggling with alcohol abuse and this led to what he terms as “the start of his downfall” and some very hard times. In October of 2003, though, Joseph made a conscience decision to take back control of his life. He joined AAA, and since that day 12 years ago, has not had another drink. Determined now to be a beacon of hope to others going through similar hardships, Joseph focused his efforts on running his business, Re-Con Decorating, full-time. Sadly, despite all of his work, hard times fell on Joseph again; and, with the untimely death of his daughter, which took a great toll on him physically, emotionally and financially, he found himself in need of public assistance.
It was during this time that Joseph learned about the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) and its Room Attendant Training Program. Joseph was working with a social worker at the welfare office but had exhausted all of his resources and was actively looking for a job. That’s when, during one of his regular meetings, the social worker pulled a flyer off a bulletin board announcing an upcoming information and recruitment session to be held by the HTA at Watts Labor Community Action Center (WLCAC), one of Los Angeles City’s WorkSource Centers. As the program seemed to touch on the things Joseph loved most — fixing things and creating and helping others, Joseph’s interest was peaked and he decided to go to WLCAC to check out the HTA program for himself. It was there that he enrolled in the WLCAC WorkSource Center, met Cathy Youngblood, a long-time Room Attendant at the Hyatt Andaz, an organizer for the UNITE HERE Local 11 labor union, and one of the HTA’s Training Instructors. That did the trick. He was instantly sold on the program and wanted in; and. although there were well over a hundred applicants for the class, Joseph made it his business to campaign hard for a spot in the program. His efforts paid off. In April 2015, Joseph took his place as one of the first 20 students in the HTA’s inaugural Room Attendant Training Class. The intensive 3-week program, which met Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., trained Joseph on the many ins and outs of working in the housekeeping department of a busy, high-end union hotel. Learning from industry insiders with real job experience, he gained the insights needed to successfully find employment and launch a career in hospitality. As part of the class, Joseph really distinguished himself as a leader: making it a point to show up early to class each day ready and willing to learn; asking questions and doing whatever was requested of him; taking advantage of any opportunity to interact with the instructors and offer assistance to his fellow students; and making it a point to introduce himself and let it be known to hotel management and human resource executives visiting the class that he wanted a job as a Room Attendant at their property and was willing to do whatever it took to break into the industry and work for them.
Exuding great customer service, confidence and a winning attitude, Joseph succeeded at impressing everyone he met. Accordingly, within a few short weeks of graduating the program, he was hired as a Room Attendant by The Beverly Hilton Hotel in June, 2015. While Joseph reports that the work of being responsible for cleaning 11 rooms a day in all forms of disarray has been among some of the most physically challenging work he has ever been asked to do, he reports that the HTA prepared him well for the job and, over time, has grown more and more comfortable at work, is taking on more responsibilities and is becoming increasingly proficient at his job.
To date, Joseph has been working at the hotel for six months. He is now a full fledged UNITE HERE Local 11 union member, making a good union wage, and has full health and dental coverage for himself and his family. He is proud that he is learning something every day and his hard work and sacrifices over the years are definitely paying off as. In October, 2015, Joseph was promoted to the position of Houseman.
A true favorite among guests and a real team player, Joseph has been commended by the hotel for his etiquette and manner in dealing with guests. In fact, at a recent staff meeting, Joseph’s supervisor shared a complimentary letter that management received from an older woman who was staying at the hotel and wanted to thank Joseph for taking the time to help her open up some cosmetic bottles that she was having trouble. Joseph’s Supervisor was quick to point out that housemen usually do not get this particular kind of recognition and that this was a big deal and something that the entire department needed to stop and take note of. To Joseph, it was another affirmation that if you treat people the way they wanted to be treated, you will be treated well in return.
There is no doubt that Joseph represents the epitome of hospitality and he has big ambitions for himself within his new career. Through hard work and a winning attitude, Joseph is confident that he will continue to prove his abilities over time and show hotel management that he can fit within and open many doors at Hilton Worldwide, even possibly filling a role for the company nationally or internationally. A true mover and shaker, the HTA believes Joseph is well on his way.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 22, 2015
Adine Forman, 310-597-1898, adine.forman@LAHTA.org
“Upskilling Summit” highlighting best practices in Southern California programs
LOS ANGELES – On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) will participate in a White House summit focused on the need to “upskill” America’s workforce. The summit will feature a diverse group of stakeholders, including members of both the business and labor communities, that are helping workers train to get ahead. HTA, UNITE HERE Local 11’s training fund, has been recognized for its best practices in working to upskill America’s frontline hospitality and food service workers.
“Upskilling”—the expansion of economic opportunity for America’s frontline, low-wage workers through skills training—enables workers to advance their careers, receive promotions, earn more for their family, and become larger contributors to their local economy.
In conjunction with attending the summit, the HTA has partnered with the soon-to-become Hyatt Regency Hotel LAX to upskill 150 members of its current workforce plus train 50 new employees, the first upskill hotel project in a long line of potential large-scale renovations being proposed in Los Angeles in the coming years.
After nine years in a LAX restaurant, Evelyn Foster faced unemployment when her concession was closed as the airport underwent a $4.11 billion modernization. She entered the Hospitality Training Academy where she and her co-workers were taught the skills they needed to raise the bar and win jobs and promotions at the airport’s new, higher-end concessions.
As airport concessions switch from fast food to fine dining, and hotels and stadiums remodel and upscale, the HTA ensures that union members, who are largely immigrants and/or people of color, are prepared to take the next step, securing higher wages and job security. With established training programs in several major cities, and new ones forming in cities like Washington DC, UNITE HERE local unions and participating employers are working to meet the needs of members, their families, and their communities.
The Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) a non-profit organization and a labor-management/Taft-Hartley Fund serving and providing training benefits to employers, the union and its members. The HTA is designed to improve Southern California’s hospitality, food service, and tourism industry sector by increasing the skill level of its workforce. Training is provided for both new hires entering the sector and current/incumbent workers seeking promotions through improved job skills and work experience.
UNITE HERE Local 11 represents more than 20,000 workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers in Southern California.
HTA proudly announces that CAST, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, selected as
Finalist in the Partnership for Freedom Challenge
LOS ANGELES, California, December 17, 2013 –The Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) is thrilled to announce that the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), has been selected as a finalist in the Reimagine: Opportunity, a national competition seeking innovative ideas to improve the lives of survivors of modern-day slavery in the United States. The HTA is a funded partner in this grant proposal.
Reimagine: Opportunity is sponsored by the Partnership for Freedom, a public-private partnership led by Humanity United, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.
CAST’s initiative, The Networked Survivor, is a plan for creating powerful professional and social networks resulting in career opportunities for survivors of human trafficking in some of Los Angeles’ largest industries: tourism, hospitality, entertainment, beauty and health. CAST’s idea was selected from among more than 160 submissions representing 260 applying organizations from around the country.
In January, CAST, the HTA and other partners will join 12 other finalists at an Innovation Workshop in Washington, DC, where specialists in technology, social enterprise, communications and media will meet with us. In the spring, the winners will be announced, with prize grants totaling $1.8 million.
CAST Executive Director and CEO Kay Buck says, “Survivors of human trafficking are some of the most entrepreneurial and hard-working people I know. However, because of a variety of complex factors, they are often held back from moving forward in achieving their education and career goals. Celebrating its 15th year serving survivors, CAST is boldly stepping into its next era as a catalyst of collective impact and shared leadership with new players who bring diverse expertise, resources and economic opportunities for survivors to the table. “
With survivors as our advisors, CAST has joined forces with Hospitality Training Academy (the Taft-Hartley Funded training arm of the UNITE HERE Local 11 Labor Union in Los Angeles’ high-growth tourism and hospitality industry), Paul Mitchell Schools and UEvolution to provide quality training and sustainable career opportunities that lead to economic empowerment.”
HTA Executive Director Adine Forman shares, “CAST gathered its most diverse, creative and networked partners to envision how we can collectively transform economic opportunities for survivors. There are abundant opportunities, but there currently exists a lack of networks and connections preventing survivors from accessing them. With the HTA, we can work to pipeline CAST clients into secure, living wage union jobs with career advancement opportunities into the hospitality/tourism/food service sector.”
The Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) provides training for new hires or current/incumbent workers looking for promotions through improved job skills and work experience. The HTA is designed to improve Los Angeles’ tourism and hospitality industry by increasing the skill level of its workforce. The HTA provides courses specifically tailored to increase workers’ skills in a variety of areas, including culinary/cook, server, dishwasher, busser, bartender, barista, housekeeping, host/hostess, cashier, retail sales/customer service and Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL). For more information, please visit our website at www.lahta.org.
For over 15 years, CAST has championed a comprehensive, survivor-centered approach to combatting human trafficking. CAST provides trafficking survivors with a continuum of life-transforming services: a 24-hour emergency response system; legal services; social services; and a survivor leadership program. Through this intensive work in the trenches, CAST holds a unique perspective that has catalyzed innovative partnerships. With these strategic relationships in place, CAST is boldly stepping into its next era as an agent of shared leadership and collective impact with new players to unveil The Networked Survivor, a plan for creating powerful career paths and networks for survivors of human trafficking. For more information, please visit: www.castla.org.
About Partnership for Freedom
The Partnership for Freedom is a public-private partnership that was first announced by President Obama during his landmark speech on human trafficking in September 2012. It is led by Humanity United, a foundation dedicated to building peace and advancing human freedom, and the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Goldman Sachs10,000 Women initiative and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.