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Union Pickets Santa Monica Hotel over Alleged Labor Abuses

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article stated that Doubletree workers are represented by UNITE HERE Local 11. Doubletree workers are not represented by the union. The article has been updated to reflect this information.

February 19, 2014 -- Workers from the Doubletree Suites Hotel in Santa Monica picketed Tuesday, claiming that management denied them legally-mandated breaks.

The workers and the regional hospitality workers' union, UNITE HERE Local 11, were joined by a handful of community members, including several City Council members and two Planning Commissioners.

“I strongly believe in respecting the rights and dignity of workers in our city so it was important to me to show my support for the employees of the Doubletree and to demonstrate to management that our community has grave concerns about the allegations of violations of labor laws,” said Councilmember Ted Winterer, who joined the demonstration Tuesday.

The hotel workers also officially filed a complaint Tuesday with the California State Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, alleging that Doubletree management has been overloading employees with work, causing them to miss their 10-minute breaks.

The Doubletree did not return a request for comment.

“If the allegations I heard directly from workers of denied breaks and refusal to pay earned overtime are true, in violation of state law, the City’s response may parallel our actions in other wage theft cases,” said Councilmember Kevin McKeown, who was at Tuesday’s protest.

Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Tony Vazquez also participated in the demonstration.

“We have succeeded in gaining past wages that were due to workers, and in imposing penalties on the managers and supervisors who refused fair payment,” he said.

McKeown was referring specifically to a recent joint investigation by the City, the California Labor Commissioner's Office, and the U.S. Department of Labor that revealed Wilshire West Car Wash had been denying its employees lunch breaks, among other things. (“Santa Monica Car Wash to Pay for Labor Violations,” November 14, 2013)

After pleading “no contest,” Wilshire West was ordered to pay $656,000 in restitution.

McKeown said he would help facilitate the investigation.

“The workers gave some written documentation of the violations they claim to the Doubletree General Manager this afternoon,” he said. “As soon as I can get copies, I will forward them to the City Attorney’s office.”

If the workers’ claims are proven, Doubletree could face fines.

“According to the law, for every day that a 10-minute break is missed, the worker is entitled to one hour of back pay from the employer,” UNITE HERE representatives said.

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