The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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Senior Housing, Mural Graffiti and Hotel Bashing

May 14, 2002

Dear Editor,

I was saddened to read your two-part article on the future senior housing in Santa Monica. I am disappointed to read that the City is abandoning senior housing and turning its back on a non-profit organization who is trying to bring a substantial amount of low income housing to Santa Monica. I am amazed that the City's reason for withholding funds for affordable senior housing is because it benefits too many "Russians."

I would like to think that the City has some awareness of the 14th Amendment to United States Constitution, which is supposed to forbid cities from discriminating against people because of their national origin. HUD rules treat all people equally, and unlike the vast majority of the City's rent control housing, HUD housing actually goes to people with financial need.

If the City wants to target financial aid for low-income seniors who already reside in Santa Monica, it can provide direct subsidies for seniors to help pay their rent. If the city were to take $500,000 a year from its budget it could provide a lot of assistance for a lot of people. Subsidizing residing low-income seniors, and creating new low-income housing, are two unrelated goals. Trying to accomplish both with the same program has failed because they have nothing to do with one another.

Sincerely,

Jeff Segal
Santa Monica


May 14, 2002

Dear Editor,

It's evident that there's a battle taking place over the fate of the Pico Neighborhood mural in the Stewart St. underpass; graffiti, fresh paint and then graffiti on top of the fresh paint repeated time and again.

Guess what folks -- the bad guys are winning! What is the city going to do about it? Spend yet more money on "landmarks" so that our beloved youth will never be without a fresh canvas upon which to express their disdain of taxpayers and the law. Our youth deserve respect, but
only if they show respect for others.

Steven G. Keats
Santa Monica


May 14, 2002

Dear Editor,

I am employed by the Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel in Santa Monica as a front desk agent. This week a letter was published on surfsantamonica.com and other media press that was written by a coworker at the Front Desk, Alex Angel who is a union organizer with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union (aka HERE).

I am astounded by the "hotel-bashing" and monstrous image of the hotel that the union supporters are attempting to create. The picture Alex paints is one where Hilton Hotels Corporation (Doubletree) managers treat their employees in a tyrannical fashion. If this were truly the case, it would be very difficult for the hotel to operate successfully (i.e. provide acceptable customer service), or to retain any employees for that matter. If my coworkers were truly miserable, as Alex portrays, I am certain that they would attempt to seek employment elsewhere.

My employer prides itself not only in treating its employees in a consistently fair and equitable fashion, but also in providing us with an enjoyable working environment. Unfortunately, since the organizing campaign was initiated several months ago, the environment at my work has become increasingly tense.

The employees who support the union are in a minority, so they have increased the harassment of employees at their homes, and have resorted to continuously misrepresenting the hotel's policies and practices in order to gain sympathy from the City Council, the community activists, and most recently the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Most interesting, however, are the facts that remain unpublicized by the supporters of HERE. Supporters of the union such as Alex are first to cry out about rising health care costs and the inability to voice opinions to the managers in the hotel. Facts that Alex Angel and other organizers such as Elba Hernandez and Tye Kirk conveniently leave out in their prepared
statements is that they are paid employees of HERE Local 814. In other words, they are receiving compensation from the labor union to convince Doubletree employees that the union should represent them.

Worse yet, community activists, the City of Santa Monica, and the laissez-faire City Council members have been brainwashed (or compensated) so that they too express opinions about how my hotel should be run. Local government and community activists have no place in telling a company how to run their operation; the current events at the Doubletree are a disappointment to the true American Dream of private enterprise.

My employer has done an excellent job in maintaining a positive work environment for the employees. My coworkers are disgusted with the union activity, and are exhausted from the harassment of employees that support the union. If community activists such as Abby Arnold want to really help the employees, they should better educate themselves on the realities behind
operating a hotel.

People that are inefficient and lazy in their work (the union supporters) have no place working in an industry whose sole purpose is to please our customers. It is sickening and disappointing that the City Council has such liberal views on business practices and that they are not willing to listen to employees such as myself that are happy without the "help" of community activists disrupting our work and the union.

Alex is quick to complain about healthcare costs, but what he does not address is the reality of healthcare costs in our nation -- they are not cheap even if you have a union. Employees at other hotels that are members of HERE local 814 or local 11 may enjoy lower employee contributions to their health plan, but they may not have such a comprehensive plan (i.e. limited HMO) as the plans offered by Doubletree, or they may lack other benefits such as a strong 401(k) plan or a generous vacation/personal time plan.

Our employees do not want to go through a collective bargaining process because they have a wealth of health coverage options (some offer affordable coverage, while other options offer more flexibility in treatment with higher costs), a generous 401(k) plan, and a very competitive PTO (paid time off) plan. In other words, Doubletree/Hilton has great benefits! Compared to the overall benefit package of the Fairmont Miramar or the new Viceroy Hotel (both represented by HERE local 814), neither of these two hotels have an overall wage and benefits package that is as good as ours at Doubletree -- reference the union contract as the proof!

Additionally, Alex incorrectly states that the Beverly Hilton is owned by Hilton Hotels Corporation; the Beverly Hilton is franchised and owned privately by Merv Griffin Enterprises. The Beverly Hilton's affiliation to Doubletree is not a valid comparison in the context of Alex's statement. Even so, if the benefits of the Beverly Hilton are compared to those of Doubletree, employees of Doubletree receive equal or superior benefits without any type of union representation (once again, reference the union contract).

Community activists, union organizers, and our illustrious City Council need to find a new subject to dwell upon -- these people have nothing better to do with their time if they can only cause trouble and unpleasantness in my work place. The constant disruption to our work is resented by the employees and our guests alike. Those employees that do not want to union lie in the strong majority -- we are confident that we will triumph over the weak and slothful employees that want to join a union. HERE should get lost -- we do not want their corrupt antics at the Doubletree Santa Monica.

Sincerely,

Eduardo G. Simonsen- Front Desk Agent
Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel, Santa Monica


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