Labor advocates are working to bring a measure to Long Beach voters by the end of the year that aims to protect hotel workers from harassment and abuse.
The Long Beach Coalition For Good Jobs and Healthy Communities and UNITE HERE Local 11 announced last Thursday that they officially filed paperwork with the city clerk for official review.
Once the city attorney finishes reviewing the ordinance and gives it a title then the signature-gathering process can begin, according to spokesman Adan Alvarez.
In a release announcing the campaign, the two groups said the move to take the issue to voters came after the Long Beach City Council voted against a similar policy named “Claudia’s Law” in September.
They also pointed to the national recognition their efforts received when Long Beach hotel worker Juana Melara, who has publicly shared her experiences of sexual abuse in the workplace, was featured as one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year for being a Silence Breaker.
In December, the city council asked the city manager’s office to come back at an unspecified date with an update on the city’s sexual harassment policy as well as how such claims are handled.
During the Women’s March in Los Angeles earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recognized Melara’s work as a Silence Breaker.
The Long Beach Hospitality Alliance, which was a vocal opponent of Claudia’s Law, said hotels have mandated training programs for employees on sexual assault, human trafficking and self defense. Claudia’s Law ultimately was voted down 5-4 by the city council, with concerns over some definitions within the ordinance and unionized hotels being able to opt out of the law pointed to by members who sided against it.
“The hospitality industry in Long Beach has for years placed safety and the well being of our employees as a priority of doing and staying in business,” said LBHA member and Senior Vice President of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Jeremy Harris. “We believe our track record speaks for itself. We invite others that say different, to sit down with us so they can learn more about our operations and the resources we provide to ensure our employees are the safest they can be.”
Harris said LBHA has also partnered with WomenShelter of Long Beach to train hospitality leaders and employees on the signs of domestic violence and resources. Two trainings are scheduled in February.
“Last year, Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council ignored the voices of working women in Long Beach hotels,” Coalition member Zoe Nicholson stated. “Instead, they gave excuses as to why a policy that protects workers from sexual assault and inhumane workloads was not ‘sound public policy.’ Now we have an opportunity to let Long Beach voters do the right thing and stand with these women and protect them from abuse.”