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Local Union Criticized for Lobbying Santa Monica City Hall for Seven-Story Hotel

 
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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

January 31, 2018 -- Unite Here Local 11, a union for housekeepers lately spreading its wings in Santa Monica, is the source of a new attack for using its clout to win a nod from the City Council for a controversial seven-story hotel in the neighborhood of the Bergamot Station Arts Center.

The Worthe Hotel was opposed by many of the arts tenants of Bergamot, and by neighborhood organizations fed up with multiple hotels -- huge revenue sources for the City -- approved lately by the City Council.

Eyes on 11, a team which is part of the anti-union Center for Union Facts, accuses Local 11 of acting against the will of the community when it lobbied last year in private meetings with City officials and before the council publicly to see the hotel project approved.

“As Santa Monicans fight to preserve the character of their neighborhoods—with a potentially sympathetic ear on City Council—UNITE HERE Local 11 is fighting to upset the character of one of their city’s most treasured historic districts,” a blog posted Tuesday at the website (www.eyeson11.com) said.

The attack on Local 11 comes as the November election season warms up, and as the council continues to juggle politically-sensitive and expansive projects involving additional hotels downtown.

Three council members are up for re-election –- Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor, both longtime members, and Sue Himmelrich, who is finishing her first term.

The city’s slow-growth contingent is hinting it will try to place one or more measures on the November ballot to reverse approval of any of the hotel-anchored developments coming before the council soon.

Local 11 is also supporting those projects, citing the new jobs they could bring to the city’s hospitality sector, and possibly the union’s ranks.

Ongoing union support for new development has made it unpopular with some resident groups, Eyes on 11 said.

“While many local residents are speaking out against the hotel construction project, Local 11 is fighting for its approval. Why? Because the hotel developer signed a labor peace agreement with the union, meaning a new hotel would be an easy mark.

“In Local 11’s eyes, the new hotel would bring with it dozens of monthly dues-payers and more money in the union’s pockets.”

Peace Labor Agreements are meant to come to terms between employees and employers that would help preclude strikes. Most of the council, which regards itself as staunchly pro-union, is generally supportive of PLAs.

As proposed, the Worthe project will be 220,000 square feet, and 120-room “art-centric boutique” hotel on the site’s western edge. It was approved as part of the redevelopment of the area.

 


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