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There has been a lot of debate lately about unions and if they are still relevant. What recently happened to workers at the Golden Sails Hotel in Long Beach may help sway those who are against unions, understand exactly why unions are still relevant. Last November 64% of voters in Long Beach said “yes” to give workers in the hospitality sector a “living wage.” That includes hotel staff, but the loophole is…only those hotels that have a 100 plus rooms. The exemption was added to help small business owners from any hardship.
So a few days ago the executives at Golden Sails Hotel (which has 170 rooms) posted a letter to their employees telling them that they would start closing rooms and some staff would lose their jobs. Friday morning employees from housekeeping were escorted into a room and told they were fired. No explanation was given. But we all know how big business works. Its all about their bottom line … no matter what. Who cares what the voters of Long Beach think? Golden Sails Hotel is a private business and they are NOT a democracy!
This morning employees who lost their jobs were joined by Unite Here! Local 11, four Long Beach City Council members, and about 100 concerned citizens to tell management that they were not going to accept this decision without a fight. Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell told the crowd, “What the management at Golden Sails is doing is anti-American. Voters passed Measure N and they should honor that.”
Rosa Rivera was fired after working at the hotel for 20 years, “I have never had one single complaint against me and I don’t have a job anymore. They told us they were closing rooms and we were fired. I was offered $1,000 to waive all future claims. As soon as Measure N passed we all got our days cut from five to three days a week. Now they just fired us.”
Long Beach Councilmembers Patrick O’Donnell, Steve Neal, Al Austin, Suja Lowenthal, and California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D) led the crowd inside the hotel lobby and asked to meet with the general manager, Matthew Daniel but he was mysteriously unavailable. An older employee came to the front counter to listen to councilmember complaints. He was not wearing a nametag so I have no idea who he was. For all we know, he could have been some poor guy off the street that was promised a free nights stay if he would deflect questions and allow Daniels to escape out the back door.
The Golden Sails Hotel seems to be part of a growing trend in the business world. They really do believe that they alone are the ones who make their business successful. They don’t understand that their employees set the tone if a business is a success or not. One person alone cannot do everything and owning a business comes with responsiblities — like treating employees with respect and a living wage. Housekeeping is not an easy job. For those who think its just about making a bed and changing towels are clueless. People are pigs. Thats right I said pigs. I used to work in the hospitality industry and had friends who were chambermaids – the things they told me that they found in these hotel rooms would make your skin crawl. Dealing with the public is a thankless job and working for a company after 20 years and still getting minimum wage adds insult to injury.
Leigh Shelton from Unite Here! organized today’s event and promised to return and start a possible boycott. Councilmembers will look into legislative measures to enforce the law so the “will of the people will ultimately be heard.”
I really don’t understand what goes on in the minds of management when they decide to close 70 rooms in order to be exempt from the new law. That’s 70 rooms at $135 a night (I called) that make them money! Its like they choose to shoot themselves in the foot! I was told that their hotel is nearly full all year round, so they are losing a great deal of revenue, not to mention getting bad publicity by screwing with peoples lives.