(Feb. 26, 2007) -- As first reported today in a FLASH posted on LBReport.com's front page (wwww.lbreport.com), LB's Hospitality Alliance (LB Airport Marriott, Hyatt Regency LB and supporters) says it submitted 35,921 petition signatures to the LB City Clerk's office this afternoon (Feb. 26) seeking to suspend and overturn a "labor peace" ordinance affecting the two above hotels operating on city property with non-union workers.
The petition-targeted ordinance was enacted by the City Council in January on a 5-3 vote (DeLong, Gabelich, Lerch dissenting).
If the L.A. County Registrar/Recorder certifies that at least 10% of LB registered voters signed the petitions [20,614 valid signatures required at last count], the "labor peace" ordinance will be immediately suspended and the Council can either repeal it or put it on the ballot for LB voters to decide. The County Registrar's count determining how many validly registered LB voters signed the petitions is expected within the next thirty days.
The 35,900+ signatures submitted by the Hospitality Alliance are believed to be an all time record for a LB referendum petition, exceeding the roughly 33,390 signatures submitted late last year by a WalMart sponsored entity which sought to overturn a Council-enacted ban on certain "big box" operations. The "big box" petition qualified and successfully suspended the ordinance with just over 600 valid petition signatures to spare. (The Council has directed a public vote in 2008 on the matter).
Both the "labor peace" petition drive and the "big box" petition drive were backed by the LB Area Chamber of Commerce (Chamber statement below).
The Unite Here! union, which represents workers at a number of other LB area hotels and venues, has called the "labor peace" ordinance a "no strike" measure that's good for the city. Opponents of the "labor peace" ordinance call it a Council-majority created organizing tool for the union at the two non-unionized hotels.
The last two weeks of the anti-ordinance petition gathering effort were marked by escalating verbal and audible advocacy. The Unite Here! union backed recorded telephone messages voiced by State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV). calling the "labor peace" ordinance a good measure and urging LB voters not to sign the petitions.
As first reported by LBReport.com, supporters of Unite Here! also appeared at multiple ELB and high-propensity voter areas and dogged petition gatherers, urging LB voters not to sign the petitions.
A few days later, as reported by LBReport.com, 3rd district Councilman Gary DeLong (as a private citizen with his personal email address) transmitted a mass email expressing concerns over what he described as disruption of the petition gathering process. That was followed by a recorded telephone message from Councilman DeLong which said in part,
"I urge every Chamber member that is a Long Beach resident to sign a petition (if you haven't already) and deliver it to the Chamber. Together we can send a message that our City should not be in the labor organizing business."
In the final days of the signature gathering effort, LBReport.com readers reported receiving a second round of anti-petition recorded telephone messages from Sen. Lowenthal [a repeat of his previous anti-petition message.]
At the same, the LB Area Chamber of Commerce sent out a mass email alert urging members to sign the petitions.
And it didn't stop there. "They [the anti-petition union supporters] were out there even today, trying to stop us," Mr. Murchison told LBReport.com.
In a written statement, Mr. Murchison said, "We hope that the City Council recognizes that their constituents want the Council to focus on streets and sidewalks and not to pander to outside political groups whose only real interest is in unionizing the already successful hotel industry in Long Beach. Although the Hospitality Alliance is committed to defeating this ordinance at the ballot box, we hope the City Council will re-evaluate the value of this pro-union ordinance to the voters."
Last year, the Unite Here! union 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
Like the petition drive to repeal the Council's "big box" ban, the petition drive to repeal the "labor peace" measure was supported by the LB Area Chamber of Commerce. This afternoon (Feb. 26), Chamber President/CEO Randy Gordon issued the following statement:
For the second time in the last six months, the Chamber participates in a successful signature-gathering effort to overturn a job-killing City Council measure. Despite the best efforts of out of town Labor-organizers from San Francisco who joined forces with State Senator Alan Lowenthal to prevent the people from having their say, today, the Long Beach Hospitality Alliance turns in 35,921 signatures of Long Beach residents who oppose the discriminatory "Labor Peace Agreement" ordinance adopted by the City Council early this year.
"The Ordinance 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. The Long Beach Hospitality Alliance is a broad-based Long Beach Chamber sponsored coalition. The coalition was formed in response to the Ordinance.
"The Alliance has collected and submitted these signatures in an effort to get the city of Long Beach out of the labor organizing business. We are proud of the overwhelming support we have received from the Long Beach community. Residents and business alike came together to stop this unfair and unnecessary law that was adopted by the City Council in response to pressure by outside special interests, not in the interest of good public policy. We hope the City Council will respond to the will of the Long Beach residents and rescind this job-killing legislation."
Unite Here local 681, which supports the ordinance, 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.