The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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A Front Desk Union View and Sway and Sing

May 11, 2002

Dear Editor,

I work at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica as a Front Desk Agent. I am one of the workers who has been organizing a union to change conditions inside
the hotel. I want to state publicly a few of the reasons why I believe we need a union.

In addition to working at the hotel, I am a full-time student commuting to Cal State Northridge from LA. I support myself and am putting myself through school with my job at the Doubletree. This year health insurance costs went up for workers at the hotel. I am single and have no children, yet I will pay over $500 this year for health insurance premiums. This may not seem like much, but for me it is a month's rent, a
semester's worth of books, or gasoline to commute to Northridge.

My co-workers who have families will pay between $700 and $3,000 this year for their coverage, depending on the plan that they have. The cheapest plan for people
with more than one dependent costs $1,480 a year. This does not include the cost of medicine, the cost of visit co-pays, or things like emergency room fees ($250) -- all of which also increased this year. These costs are so high that many of my co-workers do not have medical insurance at all because they cannot afford to pay for it. These people have to rely on publicly funded clinics or assistance programs like
Medi-Cal for their health care.

I know that in the union hotels -- including the Beverly Hilton which is part of the Hilton Corporation just like the Doubletree -- the company pays 100% of the cost of health insurance because it is in the union contract. I also know that like all the hotels
in Santa Monica the Doubletree does very well and can afford to pay for this benefit.

The health insurance is just one reason we are organizing, but it is one that impacts almost every worker in the hotel. We also want job security, better pay, and more respect on the job. We are understaffed to the point where many workers do the jobs of two people and frequently have to sacrifice their breaks to finish all their work.

I also want the right to voice my opinions without feeling pressured. Before I started organizing I got only good evaluations from my managers. Since I have started speaking out in favor of a union, my managers have tried to write me up on several occasions and I am watched by security whenever I take my breaks. The General Manager frequently talks to workers in mandatory meetings about how the union is bad. When I exercised my right with another co-worker to pass out leaflets to guests on my off-time, I was told that if I didn't leave the police would be called to arrest me!

At the front desk, I deal directly with the guests and try to provide them with a high-quality service. That is my job and I take it seriously. I am organizing so that the hotel takes my work and the work of my co-workers seriously, by providing us with the work environment and the benefits we deserve.


Alex Angel
Front Desk Agent, Doubletree Guest Suites

May 11, 2002

Dear Editor

The commentary that Rita Lowenthal wrote regarding the Santa Monica police chief did not surprise me ("A Response to Chief Butts -- 'Why so nervous?' May 5).

Rita may think it a good thing that the crime rate in the this city and Los Angeles is doing just fine, and the police should just let the "criminals" do their "job." Yep, chief Butts, get rid of the riot gear, lets all hold hands, sway and sing "...we are the world...we are the children.."

Len Labounty
Santa Monica

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