20
Thu, Jun

SEIU, UNITE HERE are Weaponizing Ballot Initiatives

LA WATCHDOG

LA WATCHDOG - The politically powerful Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”) and UNITE HERE Local 11 ("UNITE HERE") have filed four ballot initiatives targeting the hotel and healthcare industries, two of the City’s largest employers, in an effort to influence labor negotiations. 

One of these initiatives was approved by the City Council while the other three will be on the March 2024 primary ballot.

On June 6, 2022, the City Council began its “deliberations” of a UNITE HERE initiated ballot measure, the Workplace Security, Workload, Wage, and Retention Measures for Hotel Workers. After limited discussion, the City Council, following the directions of the campaign funding union leaders, voted to adopt the measure on June 21, 2022, instead of placing it on the ballot despite the strenuous objections of the hotel and tourist industries. 

On June 10, 2022, the City Council began its “deliberations” on an SEIU initiated ballot measure, the Minimum Wage for Healthcare Employees Working at Healthcare Facilities. Within two weeks, the City Council voted to adopt the measure on June 21, 2022, again kowtowing to the union bo$$es.  

In response, the healthcare industry presented a valid referendum petition that means the ordinance approved by the City Council is suspended. The measure will be on the March 2024 primary ballot.  

On July 20, 2022, the City Council began its “deliberations” on a second UNITE HERE proposed ballot measure, the Land Use and Replacement Housing Requirements for Hotel Developers; Program to Utilize Vacant Hotel Rooms for Unhoused Individuals, Police Permit Requirements for Hotels.  But this time, the City Council voted on August 5 to place the initiative on the March 2024 primary ballot.

Of note is the initiative’s Hotel Housing Voucher Program that would require hotels to offer vacant rooms to unhoused individuals and families.  Just imagine the adverse publicity and the hit to the City’s tourism industry if an out-of-town guest is assaulted by a homeless person. 

On April 5, 2023, the City Council began its review of a second SEIU proposed ballot measure, Limits on Healthcare Executives Compensation. Since the number of valid signatures was unable to be determined, the City requested the County to verify the signatures.  The County found that there were enough valid signatures, but at a cost to the City of $2.9 million. On June 21, 2023, the City Council voted to place this initiative on the March 2024 primary ballot.

This initiative proposes to limit total compensation for any executive within the City to $450,000.  If approved by the voters, who would be left to manage the multibillion operations of our nationally ranked hospitals such as Cedars Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, and Keck USC.

By placing these three initiatives on the ballot, we will be able to have an open and transparent discussion of the pros and cons of each measure.  At the same time, we are being pressured to make a yes or no decision on a self-serving ballot measure. 

Each of these three ballot measures deserve our NO vote. Each is not in our best interests and will have a negative impact on the City’s economy.  In addition to the negative impact on the tourism and healthcare industries, these measures will send a loud and clear message to existing and prospective employers that LA is not open for business. 

We also need to send a message to SEIU, UNITE HERE and others that we will not support the weaponization of the initiative process by self-serving special interests. 

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].) 

Reference materials

Workplace Security, Workload, Wage, and Retention Measures for Hotel Workers - Council File 22-1200-S3 <22-1100-S3 (CFMS) (lacity.org)>

Minimum Wage for Healthcare Employees Working at Healthcare Facilities - Council File 22-1200-S4 <22-1100-S4 (CFMS) (lacity.org)>

Land Use and Replacement Housing Requirements for Hotel Developers; Program to Utilize Vacant Hotel Rooms for Unhoused Individuals, Police Permit Requirements for Hotels - Council File 22-0822 <22-0822 (CFMS) (lacity.org)>

Limits on Healthcare Executives Compensation - Council File 23-0386 <23-0386 (CFMS) (lacity.org)>

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