LETTERS -- Hotel Union Should Take Its Bad Ideas Elsewhere

July 25, 2023

Dear Editor,

Tourism has bounced back in Santa Monica, with the number of visitors doubling over last year. Leave it to Unite Here Local 11 to cloud this sunny news.

The union announced a ballot initiative this past week to raise the city’s hotel minimum wage, overnight, to $30 an hour ("Hotel Union Submits Ballot Initiative for Country's Highest Minimum Wage," July 19, 2023).

Perhaps aware of the financial pressures this mandate would cause, the union has carved out its own members from the measure, ensuring that non-union hotels would be forced to pay a higher wage rate, while union hotels get a pass.

In an especially dishonest move, the union had one of its members act as an official proponent of the initiative while declining to explain in the press materials that the ballot measure wouldn’t cover him.

The union has a questionable history in Santa Monica. Co-President Kurt Peterson gained notoriety after deploying his daughter to “salt” a hotel targeted for organizing.

Local 11 advocated for relaxing building height restrictions in the city, despite the fact that most residents don’t want to turn Santa Monica into Miami Beach. And during the pandemic, it laid off employees while the union’s leaders left their own pay virtually untouched.

The union has been relatively quiet in the city in recent years, and the city’s business environment is better off for it. Others haven’t been so lucky: In West Hollywood, Local 11-endorsed minimum wage mandates have forced long-time restaurants to close down or seek a new owner.

Santa Monica’s leaders on the Council, in the hospitality industry and the business community more broadly should tell the union to take its bad ideas elsewhere.

Charlyce Bozzello
Communications Director
Center for Union Facts

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