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Hotel Union, Slow Growth Activists at Odds Over 'Plaza' Development

Dear Editor,

Slow-growth groups in Santa Monica plan to go “head to head” with the developer of the Plaza at Santa Monica, asserting the mixed-use structure will only “bring more traffic to the City's most congested area” ("Proposed Downtown Development Could Reinvigorate Slow Growth Movement," November 6, 2019).

Their real beef isn't with the developer; it's with Unite Here Local 11 ("Santa Monica Hotel Union Urges Taller Buildings After Victory," November 18, 2016).

As is often the case in Santa Monica, it’s not the community calling the shots, but the union.

Local 11 has long supported the Plaza’s development, seeing it as an opportunity to grow its membership base and its dues intake.

The union even pushed the city to explore the “tallest version of the project," despite the fact that 60 percent of Santa Monica residents don’t support projects exceeding the city’s 84 foot height limit.

No matter: In its commentary, the union suggested there would be "more jobs"

Local 11 can bank on these jobs because it signed a union neutrality agreement with the developer before the project is even approved. (The development boasts on its website of providing “over 150 union jobs upon completion.”)

Local 11 is less enthusiastic about non-union hotel development; witness its reputation for blocking hotel projects and harassing developers that refuse to enter into an agreement with the union ("Anaheim Council OKs Measures Against Hotel Projects for 2018 Ballot").

The hotel union demonstrated this summer that it has little care for workers' concerns, brushing off the testimony of non-union hotel workers who didn't support its harmful workload restriction ordinance ("Santa Monica Council Unanimously Approves Groundbreaking Hotel Ordinance," August 28, 2019).

Now, the union is showing similar disinterest for the concerns of the community it's active in.

If the union's agenda is so disliked by workers and residents, it raises the question: Why does City Council keep backing it?

Charlyce Bozzello is the communications director at the Center for Union Facts.

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