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Hotel Union Wage Measure Fails to Meet Deadline


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By Jorge Casuso

January 29, 2024 -- An initiative requiring Santa Monica hotels to pay their workers at least $30 an hour failed to meet Monday's deadline for filing signatures, according to the City Clerk.

Unite HERE Local 11 -- which touted the proposed law as setting "the highest minimum wage in the country" -- had until 5:30 p.m. Friday to submit petitions signed by 10 percent of the city's registered voters.

According to Maria Dacanay, an administrative analyst for the City Clerk's office, the petitions were not received Monday, and the union has not had any communications with the office or requested an extension.

The union -- which submitted the initiative last July 18 -- had 180 days to gather the necessary signatures after the clerk provided a ballot title and summary on July 31.

The union would have needed to gather the valid signatures of some 7,000 registered voters to place the measure on the ballot.

Union officials also failed to meet a January 21 deadline to submit signatures for a similar wage measure submitted in Beverly Hills, according to the Beverly Hills Courier.

Union officials did not respond to several requests for comment.

It is unclear if the union intended to circulate the petitions or use them as a bargaining chip in ongoing negotiations with some 40 area hotels, including four in Santa Monica.

There have been no reports of signature gathering in Santa Monica during the prolonged battle that has led to intermittent walkouts by hotel workers and rising tensions between protesters and residents.

The proposed initiative exempted union hotels, ensured "reasonable workloads for hotel room cleaners" and largely prohibited hotel employers from hiring contract workers to clean rooms ("Hotel Union Submits Ballot Initiative for Country's Highest Minimum Wage," July 19, 2023).

"Citing the housing crisis, the union is demanding employers pay a living wage so that workers can afford to live near where they work," the union said in a press release last July.

Two weeks after submitting the minimum wage initiative, the union submitted a ballot measure that would impose a 7 percent bed tax on Santa Monica hotels to create an affordable housing fund for hospitality workers ("Hotel Workers Union Submits Bed Tax Initiative," August 1, 2023).

The City Clerk also provided a ballot title and summary for the measure, but the union never followed up by filing a notice of publication in an adjudicated paper, Dacanay said.

If the union chose to revive either measure, they would need to resubmit them to the City Clerk and gather the necessary signatures, she said.

The Center for Union Facts, a hotel union watchdog, said Local 11's "ballot loss" is Santa Monica's "gain."

"The union wants to put hotel employees at risk, make tourists pay more, and endanger the local economy -- all as part of a ploy to increase its leaders' power," Charlyce Bozzello, the center's communications director, said in a statement.

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