(Feb. 22, 2007) -- Third district Councilman Gary DeLong (in his capacity as a private citizen) is adding his audible advocacy to support a referendum petition drive that seeks to suspend and let voters decide on a Council-enacted (5-3, DeLong, Gabelich, Lerch dissenting) "labor peace" ordinance affecting two hotels (Airport Marriott, Hyatt Regency LB) operating on city-owned land with non-union employees.
The ordinance is supported by the Unite Hear! union, whose local represents workers at a number of area hotels and venues. The union opposes the petition drive, praising the ordinance as a "no strike" measure.
Opponents of the ordinance, including the two affected hotels (as part of a Hospitality Alliance) and the LB Area Chamber of Commerce, call the ordinance a de facto organizing device for the union.
A Monday Feb. 26 deadline looms by which anti-ordinance advocates must submit at least 20,000+ valid voter signatures to suspend the ordinance and bring it to a public vote.
At midday Feb. 22, the Chamber's advocacy body transmitted a mass email alert commending Councilman DeLong for "urging voters to support direct democracy" by signing the petitions...and criticizing State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) who (as previously reported by LBReport.com) recorded a telephone message last week urging voters not to sign the petitions.
The Chamber advocacy email said in pertinent part:
[email text] Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Randy Gordon issued the following statement today in response to efforts of union-organizers to discourage direct democracy:
The Long Beach business community is relieved to hear that Councilmember Gary DeLong has come to the rescue of Long Beach workers. Councilmember DeLong has recorded a phone message urging voters to support direct democracy. The Councilmemberís efforts couldnít have come at a better time.
In perhaps one of the most blatant displays of dirty politics, union-organizers have sunk to "alternative methods" in their quest to prevent the people from having their say on the so-called Labor Peace Agreement.
The Chamber has obtained pictures of union-organizers bedeviling the signature-gathering efforts of the Hotel Alliance to get the measure in front of the citizens of Long Beach for an up or down vote.
The Ordinance, enacted by the City Council, imposes a union on hotels on city property in the name of "labor peace" even though operations at non-Union hotels in Long Beach have not been disrupted for more than 30 years.
DeLongís efforts are in response to Union-organizers, who have been joined in their fight to keep the people from weighing in by State Senator Alan Lowenthal. Mr. Lowenthal has recorded telephone messages urging Long Beach voters not to sign petitions. In fact, Mr. Lowenthal calls the Council-passed ordinance a good measure and urges the telephone message recipient not to sign petitions. The Chamber is disappointed to learn that an otherwise good and decent public-servant like Mr. Lowenthal has aligned himself with these rogue tactics. Business and job-creation aside, elections are a hallmark of our democracy. The Senator should welcome this opportunity for his constituents to weigh-in on this important topic, not align himself with union-organizers from San Francisco that donít trust the judgment of the people of Long Beach to decide whatís best for Long Beach.
The text of Councilman DeLong's phone message (described in the Chamber-advocacy email alert) is:
DeLong: I am opposed to the recently passed "Labor Peace Agreement" ordinance. Contrary to what you may have heard, this ordinance does not provide any revenue to the City of Long Beach.
Recently, several Long Beach hotels decided to initiate a petition process to request that the ordinance be placed for a vote of the people at the next regularly scheduled election. I urge every Chamber member that is a Long Beach resident to sign a petition (if you havenít already) and deliver it to the Chamber. Together we can send a message that our City should not be in the labor organizing business.
According to recipients of the recorded message from Senator Lowenthal, it includes a self-introduction (along the lines of "This is Senator Alan Lowenthal") and describes the Council-passed ordinance as a good measure and urges the telephone message recipient not to sign the referendum petition.
Last year, Unite Here! spent roughly $30,000 as an independent expenditure (not candidate controlled) to successfully help elect Senator Lowenthal's daughter-in-law, then-incumbent School Board president Suja Lowenthal, to the City Council. Once on the Council, Councilwoman Lowenthal voted for the ordinance as did Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal. The measure passed with five affirmative votes...the bare minimum necessary for passage
As previously reported by LBReport.com, Councilman Gary DeLong has previously weighed in on the petition drive. Last week, using his personal (non-City Hall, non-taxpayer) email address to send a number of LB residents a message stating in part:
When it was time for me to vote on the Labor Peace Agreement issue at the recent council meeting, I asked myself one question, "Does a Labor Peace Agreement benefit residents and/or businesses in the City of Long Beach?". When I realized the answer was "No", I also realized that it was nothing more than a "Labor Organizing Agreement".
Contrary to what you may have heard, a Labor Peace Agreement does not provide any revenue to the City of Long Beach. The Hotels don't realize any benefit, nor do the workers. In fact, a Long Beach based business (and its Long Beach employees) that provides workers to the hotel industry will be harmed. Because they are not unionized, hotels would be barred from using their workforce. The only ones that benefit is a Labor Union from LA called "Unite Here".
If you would like to support the petition process, please let me know and a petition will be provided to you for your signature. The purpose of the petition is to require that this item be placed on the ballot for a vote of the people at the next regularly scheduled election (June 2008).
At that time, Councilman DeLong told LBReport.com, "You know, I had been content to let the petition process work, but frankly I've become concerned about disruption of the petition process. Any disruption of that process is a concern for me."
The president of Unite Here! Local 681, Ada Briceño, has told LBReport.com that Senator Lowenthal's telephone messages are backed by the union's national HQ...which has taken note of the Long Beach referendum. "What happens in Long Beach affects workers here, and the workers are our primary interest...and what happens here could affect workers elsewhere in California and across the country," Ms. Briseño said.
She said efforts to overturn the ordinance, which was enacted by the Long Beach City Council, are coming from hotel operations outside Long Beach...and in her view those outside Long Beach shouldn't be telling Long Beach what to do.
As first reported by LBReport.comfirst amendment duel played out outside the Los Altos Target store on Bellflower Blvd. south of 405 freeway. [Similar encounters apparently took place outside various retail stores in LB where petition-gatherers were operating.]
We saw a petition-gatherer (center in photo, viewed from sidewalk off property) offer petitions to LB registered voters while an anti-petition advocate (to left in photo) stood alongside displaying a color-printed leaflet with the words "Please Don't Sign This Petition. Let's Keep the No Strike Agreement" with a red circle/red-line "no" symbol over an image of a hand with a pencil. She stood close-by but didn't touch the petition gatherer or people who approached the gatherer.
When we walked up to the store, we saw another anti-petition advocate, a young man, who was more outspoken. As the petition gatherer approached an exiting store shopper, he followed -- again, not touching the petition gatherer or the potential petition signer -- while volunteering verbal comments. "Don't sign it...She's paid for the signatures she gets...She's backed by the hotels." His tone of voice was insistent but not angry; his comments targeted the measure.
We saw mixed results. Two entering shoppers appeared put-off by the anti-petition advocates and signed the petition. However, an exiting shopper regaled by the more outspoken of the two anti-petition advocates didn't sign the petition. The anti-petition advocate responded with happy "Si se puede! Si se puede!" (Yes, we can).
The leaflet carried by the anti-petition advocate said at the bottom, "It's good for Hotel Workers. It's good for Taxpayers. For more information, contact UNITEHERE local 681" (with an OC telephone number).
Unite Here Local 681 represents hotel workers, housekeepers, bellmen, servers, cooks, dishwashers, and other hotel employees and restaurant workers at two hotels on city-owned property (Coast LB Hotel and Queen Mary) and also represents workers at the LB Yacht Club, LB's Petroleum Club and several LB restaurants, the union's Local web site says.