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LETTERS -- Is Councilmember Acting as Union's 'Inside Man' at City Hall?

August 22, 2019

Dear Editor,

At the August 13 City Council meeting, Councilman Kevin McKeown all but demanded that City staff add a "last minute" policy on worker retention to Santa Monica's hotel housekeeper protection legislation ("Council Adds Last-Minute Worker Retention Provision to Hotel Ordinance," August 14, 2019).

Despite warnings that "this [was] a big ask" and it would be better for the staff to take their time to craft the most effective policy, McKeown wouldn't budge:

"I just don't support postponement" of the policy, he said. "I just don't."

But why take such a hard line, leaving the City with less than two weeks to come up with a retention policy before voting on this bill next Tuesday?

A curiously timed video from Unite Here Local 11 -- the union backing the legislation -- might explain it.

McKeown claimed that he put together his request for a "worker retention package" the Friday before the Council meeting -- August 9.

On that same day, Local 11 uploaded a video to Vimeo. The video features a hotel housekeeper speaking in favor of the legislation, including the worker retention policy.

Logic would tell us that one of two things occurred here:

Either Local 11 had time to produce, cut, and upload a video calling for worker retention on the same day Kevin McKeown organically decided to bring the issue up at the next Council meeting;

Or, McKeown's "last minute" addition was actually a coordinated request by the union.

The latter seems more likely, especially considering the fact that Local 11 has been orchestrating this legislation's progress from the beginning.

The bill itself is a product of backroom dealings between the union, the Council, and the city's Commission on the Status of Women (for information click here).

If McKeown is really acting as the union's "inside man" at City Hall, it begs the question: What else does Local 11 know that we don't?

Charlyce Bozzello

Charlyce Bozzello is a communications director at the Center for Union Facts.

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