|The Lookout Letter to the editor|
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By Charlyce Bozzello
When Unite Here Local 11 released a list of purported supporters of its controversial "housekeeper protection" ordinance, several dozen signers -- including three members of the City Council -- might have been surprised to see their names included.
After Local 11's spokesperson affirmed that every signer on the list supported the ordinance, the union was forced to backtrack when two Councilmembers either denied signing the petition or said they didn't remember signing it.
The union claimed an administrative snafu was responsible for the mistake, and offered this lame apology: "We regret the error" ("Councilmembers' Names Appear on List Urging Them to Support Hotel Ordinance," August 23, 2019)
But does the union really regret it? It's not even the first time this year Local 11 has made an "error" to skew the facts in its favor.
This spring in Aspen, Colorado, Local 11 parachuted in to oppose a local ballot measure supported in part by an investor group that has drawn the union's ire.
Local 11 sent a mailer claiming that Aspen taxpayers were providing a multi-million dollar subsidy to a developer in exchange for a luxury hotel.
Turns out, this was false. In reality, the Aspen City Council had approved a “public-private partnership” that would allocate public funds for local improvements, including a new ski museum.
The union admitted that the “mailer misstated the direct recipient of the taxpayer subsidy.” The union's apology, after the mailer already hit inboxes? "We regret the error."
In May, the union again found itself in hot water for allegedly defamatory statements, receiving a cease and desist letter from the Freehand Hotel in Los Angeles.
This time, the union co-president Kurt Peterson made over-the-top statements about poor sanitary conditions at the hotel -- despite it having just received an “A” rating from the city's health department the prior week.
Just last year, Local 11 fought to get a so-called hotel housekeeper protection law on the ballot in Long Beach. The union combined broadly-popular language on panic buttons with unrelated (and self-interested) language on workload requirements.
But the union's signature drive was marred by its “alleged false and misleading statements” -- including its claim that “80 percent of hotel maids in Long Beach have been assaulted.”
Turns out, that's also false: A police memo even showed that from September 2016 to August 2017, just two assaults were reported by hotel employees in Long Beach -- and only one involved a female worker.
As in Long Beach, the union has sold its current Santa Monica work rules scheme -- a scheme broadly opposed by hotel housekeepers -- by combining it with a popular "panic button" requirement.
Whether or not members of the City Council signed a petition in support of this plan, they've certainly raised questions about their own neutrality on the subject by appearing at the union's publicity events on the matter.
Much like the boy who cried wolf, Local 11's word holds a lot less weight after so many “errors.”
It's time the Council started listening to the housekeepers who oppose the work rules piece of this ordinance, rather than a union that has more regrets than facts at its command.
Charlyce Bozzello is a communications director at the Center for Union Facts.
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