Local 11 Goes For Round 2 on Harmful Ballot Measure in RPV

Back in 2019, the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes overwhelmingly voted against a potentially harmful ballot measure backed by hotel worker union Unite Here Local 11. Despite more than 78 percent of voters rejecting the ballot measure, the union is back trying to peddle the same harmful ordinance, hoping for a different outcome.

Measure B masqueraded as a well-intentioned ballot measure meant to provide hotel workers with panic buttons and raise their minimum wage. But hidden in the measure’s fine print was a square footage limit on how much hotel housekeepers could clean per shift.

A similarly controversial law, also pushed by Local 11, passed in Santa Monica earlier in 2019. Several hotel workers came out to testify against the law, but the City Council ultimately sided with the union. Hotel workers voiced concerns about losing their benefits if they weren’t able to work the required amount of hours each week. They also worried about losing the ability to earn extra pay incentives, which they had under the current cleaning system.

A report of the potential impact of these square footage limitations found that it could actually increase housekeeping costs “by between 32 and 65 percent a year.” A rise in labor costs could cause hotels to cut staff hours or lay off employees altogether. 

Much like Measure B, the ordinance in Santa Monica also included an exemption for unionized hotels. That meant Local 11 wasn’t forced to play by its own rules, even though unionized hotel housekeepers typically clean well over the measure’s recommended 4,000 sq. ft. limit per shift.

Last week, Local 11 launched a voter initiative to put the same ordinance back on the ballot in Rancho Palos Verdes. But it wasn’t an issue of worker safety in 2019, and it’s not today. More likely, the union knows workers liked the current scheduling system — that’s why Local 11 included a carve out for its own members. Forcing non-union hotels onto a different system is just a way to bully employers into signing collective bargaining agreements with Local 11.

Rancho Palos Verdes got it right the first time around. For the sake of hotel workers, let’s hope the city can do it again.