For the past 10 years, Lorena Lopez has dedicated herself to empowering working women. Lopez is the non-union organizing director for hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 11, an organization dedicated to lifting workers out of poverty.
Lopez began organizing working women 10 years ago as a retail attendant in an LAX Airport gift shop. While working two jobs to put herself through college, she joined a small committee of workers struggling to earn a decent wage. Lopez and her co-workers led the fight to pass the nation’s first living wage ordinance, and subsequently transformed the LAX Airport into an environment where employees have a voice, a living wage and benefits.
Empowered by the experience, Lopez began organizing hotel workers. She quickly realized hotel housekeepers — the women who clean the rooms, make the beds and take out the trash are the backbone of the hospitality industry; yet remain largely invisible to the outside world. While working to provide comfort, luxury and a hospitality in some of the country’s finest hotels and resorts, housekeepers struggle daily, experiencing high injury rates, earning low wages and often unable to afford healthcare for themselves or their families.
In the past 10 years, Lopez has helped empower these women to change this reality. She has successfully helped thousands of Southern California hotel workers from Santa Monica to Costa Mesa demand respect and better working conditions by organizing a union.
Lopez remains a committed warrior in the fight for worker justice and tireless champion of women’s rights.