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OPINION -- Local 11's Empty Attempt to Stand With Women Against Abuse

By Charlyce Bozzello

Tonight, Unite Here Local 11 will rally with its affiliated group Stand With Women Against Abuse during a press conference at the Santa Monica City Hall.

The group’s goal is to “encourage the City Council to pass a law to protect hotel housekeepers from sexual assault and address overly burdensome workloads.”

Local 11 hopes this so-called “Housekeeper Bill of Rights” will be the product of the City Council’s decision last October to draft an ordinance mandating panic-buttons and workload restrictions at the city’s hotels.

Santa Monica residents and workers alike would be wise to remember the suspicious origin of this ordinance ("City to Draft Groundbreaking Ordinance Protecting Santa Monica Hotel Workers from Sexual Violence," October 26, 2018).

Emails obtained through a public records request showed that the City Council instructed Local 11 to “work quickly to get something to them” on the issue of panic buttons and workload requirements.

To help the City Council appear unbiased in the proceedings, the union went through the Commission on the Status of Women. The Committee’s recommendations to the Council were then essentially copied word for word from a Local 11 memo.

Even more questionable was the City’s decision to draft an ordinance without providing any research on how such a law would impact workers or the city’s hospitality industry—something even the City Clerk admitted was “unusual.”

Aside from the genesis of this potential law, it’s frankly rich that the union still claims to “stand with women against abuse” when it has yet to comment on the sexual harassment and worker abuse scandal that took place at Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) late last year ("Leader of Social Justice Group Involved in Santa Monica Organizing Efforts Resigns," November 26, 2018).

Much like Stand With Women Against Abuse, CLUE is an arm of Local 11. From sharing an office with the union and receiving generous donations from it, to speaking at Local 11’s rallies, the two could hardly be more connected.

It’s odd, then, that Local 11 would stand in front of the City of Santa Monica to demand protections for hotel housekeepers while it remains silent on alleged worker abuses carried out by CLUE’s former director Rabbi Jonathan Klein.

These alleged abuses include “wage violations,” “inappropriately withholding pay,” and “inappropriate sexual remarks” and “touching.”

At tonight’s press conference, it's unlikely Local 11 addresses the role its own partner group played in committing workplace abuse. But one thing is for sure: the union owes workers an explanation for its own negligence.

Charlyce Bozzello is Communications Manager at the Center for Union Facts


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