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Santa Monica Hotel Signs Union Agreement, 4 Hold Out


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By Jorge Casuso

April 23, 2024 -- The Proper Santa Monica is one of seven hotels that have reached tentative agreements with the union, leaving four local hotels embroiled in contentious negotiations and ongoing protests.

The recent votes by hotel workers to ratify the contracts bring to 41 the total number of hotels in Los Angles and Orange counties that have reached agreements, Unite HERE Local 11 said Tuesday.

Under the new contract -- which "has the largest economic increases of any industry-wide contract in the last 30 years" -- wages will rise by $10 (or 40 to 50 percent) by the time the contract expires in January 2028.

By July 2027, housekeepers at most of the hotels will earn $35 per hour, or $73,000 a year, while top cooks will earn $41 per hour, or $85,000 a year ("Workers Ratify Union Contracts at 2 Local Hotels," March 25, 2024).

The contract provides "one of the highest paid pension plans for service workers in the nation" and includes 50 pages of improvements," officials said.

These include "Juneteenth as a paid holiday, unprecedented language for the fair treatment of workers impacted by the criminal justice system and protections of immigrant rights."

Several dozen hotels -- including the Le Meridien Delfina, Viceroy, Courtyard and Hampton Inn & Suites hotels in Santa Monica -- have held out despite noisy protests and intermittent strikes that began nine months ago.

"The membership has resolved to continue striking and boycotting until all hotels" reach agreements, union officials said. "It is time for the greedy few who remain. . . to sign a fair contract.”

According to union officials, "More than 10,000 workers at 52 hotels have struck 170 times so far in the largest strike in the history of the nation’s hospitality industry."

"Workers at five hotels struck last week and several more are set to go out this week," officials said.

Two of the hotels targeted are the local Courtyard Marriott and Hampton Inn & Suites owned by Aimbridge Hospitality, which has not signed union contracts at any of its hotels ("Hotel Union Steps Up Actions Amid Stalled Contract Negotiations," April 11, 2024).

The two Santa Monica hotels were the target of strikes at Aimbridge properties on April 11 amid allegations by the union that six female workers -- including two at the Hampton Inn & Suites -- were harassed and verbally abused. The company has disputed the claims.

The intermittent strikes and protests continued at the two hotels on the 400 and 500 blocks of Colorado Avenue this past weekend.

Charles Springer, who lives in an affordable housing development across the street, said protests were held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"They start setting up around 7 in the morning and go until four or five," said Springer, who has been monitoring the demonstrations. "They have put up porta-potties, set up tents and are hanging clothes in front of the hotels.

"They're blocking handicap ramps and sidewalks," he said adding that he has complained to the Police Department. "They are bothering people in the neighborhood, but they don't care."

The Council has not acted on complaints lodged by neighboring residents who have spoken during public comment at Council meetings since protests began during the Fourth of July weekend last year ("Much Noise, No Action on Union Protests," September 14, 2023).

An item placed on the March 19 City Council agenda by Mayor Phil Brock and Councilmember Lana Negrete to tweak the City's noise ordinance was pulled for lack of support, Brock said.

In an interview with the Lookout, Brock did not signal out the union protests saying only that "there is excessive noise in some of the business areas in the early hours."

Given the proximity to businesses, the Council would only be able to push back the start time of the demonstrations one hour -- from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., he said.

"Especially in the Downtown, noise if to be expected," Brock said before pulling the item. " We could give people a little more peace and quiet during weekends."

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