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    Referendum Launched To Overturn Re-Written "Labor Peace" Ordinance

    (Feb. 6, 2007) -- Mike Murchison, speaking for LB's "Hospitality Alliance," indicates the group is mounting a referendum to overturn a re-written "labor peace" ordinance, passed by the City Council after Mayor Bob Foster vetoed the original measure.

    "The process has already begun," Mr. Murchison said, adding that mailers and signature-gatherers will be involved. The group's deadline to turn-in roughly 20,000 valid signatures from LB registered voters is Feb. 26, Mr. Murchison said.

    The "labor peace" ordinance affects two hotels on city-owned land, the LB Airport Marriott & Hyatt Regency LB...but Mr. Murchison indicates other entities and individuals will be involved in the referendum effort.

    The original version of the ordinance passed by the Council (5-3, DeLong, Gabelich, Lerch dissenting) was vetoed by Mayor Bob Foster and then rewritten in talks facilitated by the Mayor involving city officials, a union rep and reps of two hotel operators affected.

    In January 2007, a rewritten version was passed by the Council...and City Attorney Bob Shannon said the new text is superior to the original vetoed version because it creates less legal exposure for City Hall. At that time, Mr. Murchison said the new text was preferable to the original text but urged further discussions [which apparently didn't pan out.]

    Collecting and submitting sufficient registered-voter valid signatures to the City Clerk by the late February deadline could effectively suspend the re-written labor peace ordinance until the issue goes to a vote of the people.

    The original ordinance would have required hotels operating on city-owned land (when their lease is renewed or modified) to sign an agreement with labor organizations seeking to represent the hotel's hospitality workers...and the motion to approve it came at the Dec. 12 Council meeting in a motion made by Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal, and seconded by 2d district Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal.

    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!," a union whose local affiliate (LB-OC) urged enacting the Labor Peace agreement in LB.

    When the rewritten version of the measure returned to the Council in January, a union rep from "UNITE HERE!" urged the Council to adopt the new text. 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)...but currently doesn't represent workers at the downtown Hyatt Regency and LB Airport Marriott. The union local also represents workers at the LB Yacht Club, LB's Petroleum Club and several LB restaurants, its website indicates.

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