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New Hotel Owner Signs Union Contract  

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By Jorge Casuso

January 10, 2022 -- Eight months after paying a reported $75 million for Santa Monica's Le Merigot Hotel, the new owners signed a contract with the local hotel workers union, ending a five-year battle.

Under the contract, room attendants will earn $25 an hour by June 2023 and receive free family health insurance, according to officials of UNITE HERE Local 11.

The contract with Stockdale Capital Partners, which bought the hotel at 1740 Ocean Avenue last May, also includes a defined pension benefit plan and job security protections, union officials said.

The contract comes after a bitter and prolonged labor dispute with the previous owners, Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex, that continued after workers voted 27 to 15 in November 2016 to unionize.

Local 11 complained J.W. Marriott Le Merigot refused to sign a contract with the union and began citing and firing workers who had supported the organizing effort.

“Hats off to Stockdale Capital for being a responsible employer and for embracing Santa Monica’s values of community and justice," said Kurt Petersen, co-president of the local union.

"Thank you to the heroes of this struggle: the courageous room attendants who never lost faith, fought every day against a nefarious Columbia Sussex, and won an extraordinary union agreement,” Petersen said in a statement Monday.

When the hotel was sold on May 11, the union had been seeking to end a labor dispute before the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to determine claims filed against Columbia Sussex by eleven housekeepers in 2018.

In September 2019, the hotel agreed to pay more than $35,000 in worker bonuses as part of a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board reached less than two weeks before hearings were scheduled to begin.

It also offered to reinstate a fired worker ("Santa Monica Hotel Settles Worker Complaints with Labor Board," September 16, 2019).

In 2021, workers won "thousands of dollars" through the settlement of claims filed against the company with the California Labor Commissioner, union officials said.

Columbia Sussex "fought the unionization effort, leading to a contentious and bitter labor dispute that dragged on for more than five years," officials said.

Despite high-profile campaigns and lobbying efforts, the union has been unable to organize workers at three prominent hotels -- The Shore, Casa Del Mar and Shutters.

Last month, the new City Council majority broke with the union when it voted to approve new uses at the Shore Hotel ("Council Breaks With Union, Backs Hotel's Proposal," December 9, 2021).

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