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Hotel Union Assigns Grades Based on COVID-19 "Guarantees"

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

March 12, 2021 -- The local hotel workers union launched a website this week that grades a hotel's response to the coronavirus emergency, and non-union hotels earned all the F grades in Santa Monica. alerts Los Angeles County hotel guests "which hotels have key guarantees in place during the COVID-19 pandemic," UNITE HERE Local 11 said in a release announcing the site's launch.

The grades are assigned based on four key criteria that "relate to the safety and welfare of workers and the public," according to the website.

“The pandemic has been devastating for our members,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11 and chief negotiator with the hotel industry in Southern California.

“The loss of income and risk of exposure to the virus has gone on for almost a full year," Peterson said. "We have said that when the hotel industry reopens, it has to be safe for our members.

"They deserve to be protected, and the public does too." The website, he said, "will help us accomplish this.”

The union's grades are based on:

  • Enforceable COVID-19 Safety Rights negotiated with worker representatives to ensure safe practices;

  • Health coverage for workers guaranteed in an agreement with worker representatives;

  • Enforceable recall rights to ensure experienced workers can return to their jobs, while allowing those "with special COVID-19 vulnerabilities to delay their return," and

  • A voice on the job for workers through a recognized union.

The website lists 14 of Santa Monica's 41 hotels. It assigns only one A grade -- to the Fairmont Miramar Hotel -- and one B grade -- to the recently opened Proper Hotel.

Six other Santa Monica hotels earned C grades and six earned F grades, with non-union hotels earning all the failing grades.

They include Casa del Mar and Shutters, two luxury beachfront hotels whose owner has fought the union for more than two decades, and Le Merigot, a struggling hotel engaged in a longstanding labor dispute with the union.

Other non-union hotels earning F grades are the Huntley, Shore and Oceana hotels.

The center for Union Facts, a hotel union watchdog, called the grading system "bogus" and "a lame and transparent attempt to go after hotels that haven't signed a contract with Local 11."

"Local 11's bogus grading system has nothing to do with how area hotels are addressing COVID-19 safety concerns or employee benefits and everything to do with whether these hotels are unionized," said Charlyce Bozzello, the Center's communications director.

Bozzello said the hotels earning failing grades "are covered by LA County's stringent safety measures and many provide better pay and benefits than their unionized counterparts."

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