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    Council Gives Initial Approval To New "Labor Peace" Ordinance Hammered Out In Meetings Involving Mayor; City Att'y Says New Version Is Better, Has Less Exposure For City; Add'l Talks May Produce Further Changes Before Final Approval

    (January 16, 2007) -- The City Council has voted 8-0 to give first reading approval (a second reading/voted action is necessary to enact the measure) to a re-written "labor peace" ordinance (applying to hotels operating on city property), hammered out in talks facilitated by Mayor Bob Foster involving city officials, a union rep and reps of two hotel operators affected.

    City Attorney Bob Shannon said the new text is superior to the Council-adopted version vetoed by the Mayor because it creates less legal exposure regarding possible arguments on interference with the two hotels' existing leases with City Hall.

    Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal and Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga agendized an item to override the Mayor's veto...but they (and other Councilmembers) commended Foster for helping bring about a compromise making the veto override unnecessary. For his part, Mayor Foster credited the parties involved.

    A union rep from "UNITE HERE!" urged adopting the new text. Mike Murchison speaking for the Hospitality Alliance (two affected hotel operators) said the new text was preferable to the original text...but urged further discussions (likewise supported by several Councilmembers) before the final version is given final approval in a second Council reading.

    Another public speaker warned that the new text still creates federal preemption problems and will be protested to the NLRB.

    In December, Mayor Foster vetoed the original "Labor Peace" ordinance approved by the City Council on a 5-3 vote (DeLong, Gabelich, Lerch dissenting). It 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.

    The motion to approve the original Labor Peace measure 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 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) sought to enact a Labor Peace agreement in LB.

    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 (also on city owned property). 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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