Long Beach hotel housekeeper honored as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year

Courtesy LB Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community
Juana Melara, a Long Beach hotel housekeeper, is among a group of women recognized as the Silence Breakers, Time Magazine’s Person of The Year.

Juana Melara, a Long Beach hotel housekeeper, has just been recognized as part of a group of women from across the country known as the Silence Breakers, Time Magazine’s Person of The Year.

The recognition comes not only because of her personal story, but also for her work combating inhumane conditions in the workplace.

As a member of the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, and leader of the Stand With Women Against Abuse campaign, Melara was at the forefront of a policy fight demanding that the Long Beach City Council enact a local law that would protect hotel workers from inhumane workloads and sexual abuse. In September, the Long Beach City Council voted against passing the Ordinance to Protect Women from Physical and Sexual Abuse.

“This recognition from TIME magazine is not just about me, but about all the other women in the hospitality industry who are impacted by sexual assault and inhumane workloads,” Melara said. “Our stories will not be silenced or ignored by those who have the power to make a difference. This includes holding those who looked the other way accountable— including those in my own city of Long Beach. Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council were given a chance this past September to act, to be a leader on this issue, and they failed us; they failed me.”

Coalition member Zoe Nicholson, president and founder of Pacific Shore NOW, agreed with Melara regarding the city leaders.

“Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council should be ashamed of themselves for ignoring Juana and the other workers who needed leadership from them, and instead got excuses as to why a policy that protects workers from sexual assault and inhumane workloads was not ‘sound public policy’,” Nicholson said. “This is why the problem of sexual assault is so pervasive in our society. We have to trust women. We must proudly stand with women.”

Víctor Sánchez, director of the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, added, “Our coalition has been fighting to get these protections in Long Beach for three years, and the inaction speaks volumes. Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council have some soul searching to do.”

Source: LB Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community