The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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Outright Falsehoods

By Francois Khoury

In response to Father Mike Gutierrez' commentary of November 4th "2000 reasons to support Measure JJ, the living wage": He wrote, "Flora earns so little that she must live in government-subsidized housing. The Doubletree does not provide health benefits". Both of these statements are outright falsehoods, shamelessly thrown about to garner public support. Like the union organizers who think nothing about lying to sell their dues paying membership, Gutierrez seeks to exploit voter sympathy for "poor" people.

Here are the facts:
1. Flora Andrade is a 6-year Doubletree Employee.
2. Her salary is more than $10 an hour, in fact, it is within $.35 of what she will be granted by the living wage ordinance.
3. She has received at least 2 weeks of paid vacation time every year. Since 2001 she gets 3 weeks in addition to 7 Holidays and sick time.
4. Doubletree offers insurance to its employees. Andrade dropped her insurance coverage last year but signed up for Cigna HMO starting January 1, 2003. Her cost for this coverage is $72 biweekly.

I suppose the fact Gutierrez is a priest is supposed to add some credibility to the debate. This is unfortunate. I am assuming Gutierrez simply didn't have all the facts (which he didn't bother to research). The alternative is he knows the fact, yet still chose to write his scree.

The fact is Flora will receive a slight increase if JJ passes. That increase represents around $500 gross a year, or a net of $350. Are you expecting a "Miracle" with $350? Would this be enough to get her out of poverty and hunger according to pro JJ campaign fliers? Did you tell Flora that if we discontinued our benefits package and gave the employees the $1.75 an hour instead, she would no longer afford to buy insurance. For example Cigna HMO for family coverage runs around $550 per month, if Flora works full 160 hours a month she will receive $280! This is just medical, no dental and no vision. Are you really helping them, FATHER Mike? With all due respect Mike, what happened to "Telling the truth"?

In the Daily Bruin last week, the UCLA newspaper, a student by the name of Mike Hansen wrote: "Maria is a housekeeper at the Doubletree and makes $9.94 an hour. If she is lucky and because of measure JJ, she will be making $13.50 for cleaning Hotel rooms. Is that fair? Consider a current job posting for a full time position as a microbiologist for Amphaster Pharmaceuticals Inc. The job qualifications are Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Biology or Chemistry. Lab Experience required. Must have a good GPA and work ethic. What would a UCLA graduate with a high GPA makes as a Microbiologist? A whopping $11.50 to $14.00 an hour." This shows the disproportionate nature of JJ. The City is going to tell certain private businesses how much they should pay just because they are located in a certain area. Ridiculous.

All our Employees work very hard, Father, it is not a matter that they do not deserve an increase but you and the union are trying to write a new book on the economy, for the benefit of few and the detriment of many. This didn't work with the dot.com mentality and it won't work here. Admit it, you are using these employees as a pawn to increase public emotions and distrust of some companies, while working for an organization like the union (an organization that will never represent the employees at area hotels because of its shameless tactics).

Francois Khoury is the GM of the Doubletree Guest Suites Santa Monica

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