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Housekeepers Keep Pressure on Santa Monica Hotel Reportedly for Sale

Bob Kronovetrealty
We Love Property Management Headaches!

Santa Monica

Santa Monica Apartments

Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 434-4000


By Jorge Casuso

February 26, 2021 -- Housekeepers at Santa Monica's Le Merigot Hotel filed a complaint with the State's top workplace health enforcer Thursday alleging the hotel failed to safeguard them from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The complaint comes one week after workers demanded the hotel's owner, Columbia Sussex, resolve a longstanding labor dispute before selling the reportedly struggling property ("Hotel Union Seeks End to Labor Dispute Before Santa Monica Property Sells," February 15, 2021).

Thursday's complaint, filed with the help of UNITE HERE Local 11, alleges the hotel violated emergency regulations implemented by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).

The complaint claims the hotel failed to adequately disinfect some employee areas and failed to place adequate measures for social distancing in employee dressing rooms.

It also alleges the hotel failed to provide adequate training "on COVID policies, procedures and related benefits of these measures to combat the spread of COVID-19" by holding the training for Spanish-only speakers in English.

“I wish I had training in the language I speak, which is Spanish, to be able to keep myself safe while working,” said Blanca Guerrero, one of the housekeepers who filed the Cal/OSHA complaint.

The complaint also claims Le Merigot did not provide enough face coverings or hand sanitizer to housekeeping workers until the middle of this month.

This "forced workers to buy their own masks to use at work and caused some of them to use hazardous cleaning chemicals to disinfect their hands when their supply of sanitizer ran out," union officials said.

Compliance improved after UNITE HERE Local 11 began investigating the complaints, union officials said.

The union also conducted a Spanish-language training on Cal/OSHA’s emergency temporary standards outside the hotel on Thursday, officials said.

The complaint comes two months before hearings are scheduled to begin May 3 before the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to determine claims filed by eleven housekeepers in 2018.

In September 2019, the company agreed to pay more than $35,000 in worker bonuses as part of a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board ("Santa Monica Hotel Settles Worker Complaints with Labor Board," September 16, 2019).

The hotel, which did not admit wrongdoing, also offered to reinstate a worker fired during organizing efforts that led to the hotel's unionization in late 2016.

Local 11 said Le Merigot refused to sign a contract "despite the union’s position that the parties have already reached an agreement."

"In collective bargaining, workers are seeking fair wages, affordable health insurance, and enforceable COVID-19 safety protocols," union official said in a statement Thursday.

Columbia Sussex has not covered the cost of health coverage for workers temporarily laid off during the pandemic, the statement said.

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