(Feb. 16, 2007) -- LBReport.com has learned that State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) has recorded -- and the Unite Here! union is backing -- telephone messages urging LB voters not to sign referendum petitions that could suspend and ultimately overturn a re-written "labor peace" ordinance backed by the union and opposed by representatives of two hotels operating on city property with currently non-unionized workers.
In rough paraphrase, the recorded messages open with a self-introduction (along the lines of "This is Senator Alan Lowenthal") who calls the Council-passed ordinance a good measure and urges the telephone message recipient not to sign petitions that could suspend and ultimately repeal it.
[If you receive one of these messages on your answering machine, please email us at email@example.com with a contact telephone number so we can reach you and get the exact text.]
The president of Unite Here! Local 681, Ada Briceño, told LBReport.com that the 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 outside Long Beach...and in her view those outside Long Beach shouldn't be telling Long Beach what to do.
A "Hospitality Alliance" (comprised of the LB Airport Marriott and Hyatt Regency LB, the two hotels on city property with non-unionized workers) is in the midst of a referendum petition signature gathering drive to overturn the ordinance. If it submits a little over 20,000 LB registered voters to the City Clerk by Feb. 26, the ordinance will be suspended immediately and remain unenforceable until voters either enact it, or repeal it, in a citywide election.
Mike Murchisobn, speaking for the Hospitality Alliance, told LBReport.com, "Senator Lowenthal is a revered elected official to whom the other side has reached out. We don't believe Long Beach residents will be persuaded by recorded rhetoric. We believe the referendum is meritorious and speaks for itself."
Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal's June 2006 election to the City Council was supported by a nearly $35,000 independent expenditure [money not controlled by candidate or her campaign] by "Vota 100%," a sponsored political committee of Unite Here!, whose local affiliate (LB-OC) favored enacting a Labor Peace ordinance in LB.
The original version of the ordinance (which required hotels operating on city-owned land to sign an agreement with labor organizations seeking to represent hotel workers when their lease is renewed or modified) was approved at the Dec. 12 Council meeting on motion by Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal and seconded by 2d district Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal.
The measure was then vetoed by LB Mayor Bob Foster...and rewritten in talks facilitated by the Mayor involving city officials, a union rep and reps of two hotel operators affected. In January 2007, the rewritten version (which City Attorney Bob Shannon said created less legal exposure for City Hall) returned to the City Council at which time it was also supported by a representative of Unite Here! Local 681.
Unite Here Local 681 currently represent 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 website says.